What to See at the Drive-In This August  

From Indiana Jones to Jurassic Park, California’s revival of the outdoor cinema continues apace for the rest of summer



For many Californians, summer would be incomplete without a starlit movie screening and all it entails — from finding the perfect grassy spot to lay out the picnic blanket to popping a bottle of rosé to wash down some Humboldt Fog on sourdough. But the pandemic has made that tradition untenable. All, however, is not lost. A slew of organizations and venues have adapted their plans and taken a leaf out of the ’50s, reviving the drive-in so that silver screen favorites can be enjoyed from the safety (and comfort) of viewers’ cars. July’s nights sold out fast, so grab your calendars — here are the August dates to snap up now, from Napa Valley to Orange County. Don’t forget your FM radios!


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Various locations, Southern California 

Once again, Street Food Cinema has reinvented moviegoing in Southern California, this time with the coronavirus in mind. The alfresco favorite that launched in multiple locations in 2012 still retains its beloved food truck element, but now attendees must just wear masks when interacting outside their vehicle. Don’t despair if you can’t make one of these dates, since there are plans to keep the drive-ins going through the end of 2020.

  • Aug. 1, The Princess Bride, with Level 8 Drive-In on top of the garage of The Americana at Brand, Glendale
  • Aug. 1, The Wedding Singer, Brandeis Bardin Campus, Simi Valley
  • Aug. 8, The Princess Bride, Oak Canyon Park, Orange County
  • Aug. 8, Fight Club, Oak Canyon Park, Orange County


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A still from JURASSIC PARK. Copyright Universal Pictures, courtesy Everett Collection.


Westfield Fashion Square, Sherman Oaks

This pop-up in the Valley isn’t new, but it was fortunately not a victim of the pandemic. The classic drive-in concept is complemented by classic films, some of which have ties to the Valley. The four-night fest plans to follow up this run with a slate of Halloween-themed movies in October.

  • Aug. 13, The Sandlot
  • Aug. 14, Grease
  • Aug. 15, Jurassic Park
  • Aug. 16, La Bamba


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A still from GET OUT. Photo by Justin Lubin, copyright Universal Pictures, courtesy Everett Collection.


Vineland Drive-In Theater, City of Industry 

Technically this film series, curated by pin-up actor Michael B. Jordan’s production company Outlier Society and sponsored by Amazon, is at an established drive-in movie theater. But it’s still a pop-up, with an impressive and thoughtful lineup of double features, each surrounding a theme that celebrates diverse voices. Better yet, admission is free. The gratis movie night also comes with free snacks sourced from Black- and brown-owned businesses.

  • Aug. 12, Movies to Make You Open Your Eyes: Do the Right Thing + Get Out
  • Aug. 26, Movies to Make You Laugh: Coming to America + Girls Trip


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A still from BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, recently screened at the Monterey County Fairgrounds.



If you’re someone who is sorely missing ferris wheels, the Monterey County Fairgrounds have you taken care of on weekends through August. Tune the radio to the FM station or tap into the audio with a Bluetooth speaker, and get ready for evenings of cotton candy, corn dogs, funnel cakes with a side of your favorite films. Just 60 cars per night get access to the Fair Food Drive-Thru and walk-up vendors.

  • Fridays and Saturdays through Aug. 29, TBD


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A still from FORREST GUMP. Copyright Paramount Pictures, courtesy Everett Collection.


Alameda County Fairgrounds, Pleasanton

You can laugh and/or cry along to classic films from the comfort of your car at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in the East Bay. The weekend series runs from mid-June to Aug. 1, and attendees need only pay to park, and they’ll also receive a free ticket to the 2021 Fair. For snacks, there’s the Grab-n-Stay Food Truck Festival, and for the Aug. 1 showing, a portion of proceeds benefit local foster kids through Ticket to Dream.

  • Aug. 1, Forrest Gump


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A still from SHREK THE THIRD. Image copyright Paramount Pictures, courtesy Everett Collection.


Roadium Open Air Market, Torrance

It seems only right that the Roadium, Torrance’s open-air market and favorite swap meet venue, is going back to its roots this summer. After all, the 15-acre venue first opened in 1948 as a drive-in cinema. After a full schedule in July, it is hosting one more pop-up drive-in screening of a family favorite about a friendly green ogre, with hot food and concessions available at the recently remodeled snack bar.

  • Aug. 1, Shrek


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Filming MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL. Photo by Mirrorpix, courtesy Everett Collection.


Zion Lutheran Church & School, Anaheim 

What’s a popular art-house movie theater to do during a pandemic? Pivot and find space outside! That’s what Orange County’s nonprofit The Frida Cinema did this summer, even adding a virtual cinema streaming fundraiser to the mix. A couple dates in Aug. celebrate a pair of retro gems. The events are BYOF—bring your own food—so stock up on those picnic essentials.

  • Aug. 8 + 9, Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Aug. 12, Time Bandits


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A still from THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2. Image copyright Universal Pictures, courtesy of Everett Collection.


Castaic Lake Park

The organizers of a country music festival have rethought their summer entertainment offerings for these COVID-19 times, and shifted gears to a drive-in movie night series. Taking place under the stars in an L.A. County regional park, the old-fashioned events are operating within social distancing guidelines for good, clean fun. Don’t forget to pack a picnic!

  • Aug. 1, Despicable Me + Footloose
  • Aug. 7 + 8, Frozen + The Secret Life of Pets


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A still from THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. Photo copyright Fox Searchlight Pictures, all rights reserved, courtesy Everett Collection.


Gott’s Roadside, St. Helena

Since 1913 the tiny Cameo Cinema in Napa Valley’s town of St. Helena has been a champion of cinema, showing both indie and studio films in recent years. But with theaters closed, the institution has partnered with another adored establishment: Gott’s Roadside. The burger joint is the setting for a rich, fully digital lineup of Hollywood treasures this August. A preshow “tray gourmet” dinner may be had at socially distanced picnic tables or can be delivered to the car.

  • Aug. 1, Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Aug. 2, Shrek
  • Aug. 6 + 8, Beetlejuice
  • Aug. 7 + 9, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Aug. 13 + 15, Ghostbusters
  • Aug. 14 + 16, The NeverEnding Story
  • Aug. 20 + 22, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Aug. 21 + 23, Space Jam
  • Aug. 27 + 29, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Aug. 28 + 30, Men in Black


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A still from THE LITTLE RASCALS. Photo copyright Universal Pictures, courtesy Everett Collection.



When the pandemic hit, Calabasas restaurant Sagebrush Cantina began offering not only its menu for takeout, but bulk produce, meat, dairy and grocery items via a no-contact drive-thru. It also got creative with ways to engage loyal customers, like micro drive-ins outside. The evenings are reservation-only and, in addition to the $25/car fee, there’s a $15 food or drink minimum spend per car.

  • Aug. 5, The Little Rascals
  • Aug. 11, TBD


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Ventura County Fairgrounds 

California’s first social distancing concert series is a pop-up concept in Ventura County Fairgrounds’ parking lot. Think drive-in movie meets stadium rock show. As with the movie version, an FM radio is still a must to enjoy this experience. The extra-high 360-degree stage plus screens ensure all concertgoers can see, while there will also be visual light shows and multimedia entertainment involved. Bring your own food and beverages, and arrive early for the best parking spot in the row purchased.

  • Aug. 7, Sublime with Rome
  • Aug. 8, Rodney Atkins with Ellis Ross
  • Aug. 29, Fitz and the Tantrums


Feature image: A still from BEACH BLANKET BINGO, shown at a drive-in movie theater. Photo by Henry Groskinsky/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images.


July 28, 2020

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