By KYLE SMITH
NEW York's cheapest date is back, and best of all, you can also pass it off as "romantic"! All over the city (er, mainly in Manhattan and Brooklyn), New York's outdoor film festivals, most of which are free, are gearing up.
Monday night is opening night of the king of them all, HBO's free, long-running Bryant Park Summer Film Festival. This year's kickoff title is the sublime Dustin Hoffman rom-com "Tootsie." Get to the Sixth Avenue entrance, between 41st and 42nd streets, before 5 p.m. (when the lawn opens) to spread your blanket, because every blade of grass will be spoken for by 5:05. Other films on tap include the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (June 24) and "E.T." (Aug. 19). See bryantpark.org for the full schedule.
Not far away, at the USS Intrepid (enter at 46th Street and the West Side Highway), Friday nights will bring the Intrepid Summer Movie Series. Report for duty at 7:30 p.m. for such popcorn pictures as "Jaws" (June 28) and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (Aug. 2). No admission after 8:30; bring your own food and nonalcoholic beverages. See intrepid- museum.org for more.
Too highbrow for Hollywood? Then, the fest for you is Rooftop Films, which bills itself as "Underground Movies Outdoors." Edgy! This is the place (actually many places, scattered around Brooklyn, Manhattan and even Queens) to see Sundance darlings (like the Rooney Mara-Casey Affleck desperado saga "Ain't Them Bodies Saints"), socially engaged docs ("The Central Park Five") and other alternative fare. Sorry, penniless proletarians, but freedom of viewpoint ain't free: Admission is (with exceptions for the really esoteric stuff) $13. Check rooftopfilms.com for more info.
Back at ground level, in keeping with the binge-watching habits of today's Netflix-ed movie fan, the free Central Park Conservancy Film Festival squishes its entire sked into one long weekend, from Aug. 22 to 26, and best of all you get to vote on what they show at centralparknyc.org/filmfestival, which is conducting an election to determine whether, say, "Psycho" or "The Shining" gets shown on horror night. Sponsored by Bloomberg, so defiantly bring a big-ass soda! Check nycgovparks.org/events/free_summer_movies for info on all screenings in public parks.
Way out across the hipster moat known as the East River (I've never been to the other side, but they tell me it's nice), Williamsburg's McCarren Park will from July 10 host a free Wednesday night Summerscreen series of movies targeted at a hoodie-wearing, skateboarding audience of kidults: "Can't Hardly Wait," "Pee Wee's Big Adventure," "The Goonies," etc. Click summerscreen.org to vote on the Aug. 14 pick.
Also on Wednesdays starting July 10, back in Manhattan on the Hudson River, Riverflicks (for adults) will be showing free films like "Silver Linings Playbook" and "The Hunger Games" on Pier 63's lawn at West 22nd to 24th streets. Riverflicks for Kids runs Friday nights on Pier 46 (enter on Charles Street in the West Village) starting July 12 with "The Pirates! Band of Misfits."
Farther upriver, Summer on the Hudson: Movies Under the Stars features, at Pier 1 in Riverside Park (enter on West 72nd Street), free Wednesday night flicks (this year's theme is song and dance) from July 10's "Gold Diggers of 1933" until Aug. 14's "Pitch Perfect."
If you can keep your gaze from wandering to the spectacular views of Manhattan from the Brooklyn side in Brooklyn Bridge Park, starting July 11 there's a Thursday night series called Syfy Movies With a View. Don't expect robots and aliens, though: The cable channel is merely the sponsor. The theme is round-the-world fun under the rubric "With love from . . ." That means films such as the opener, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," and "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."
Feel like making a cinematic tour of the city? Films on the Green is a roving French series that runs Friday nights with Jean Renoir's Belle poque drama "French Cancan" playing June 21 in Washington Square Park. Other locations include Tompkins Square Park, Riverside Park and Central Park; check frenchculture.org.
Feeling left out, Queens? Don't despair. On Thursday nights, in Cunningham Park, Movies Under the Stars will showcase films ranging from "The Lorax" to "Les Misrables" at 8 starting Aug. 1. Check friendsofcunninghampark.org.
Originally published by KYLE SMITH.
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