Bryant Park Rolls Opening Credits on Summer Movie Series

Free movie nights return to the park on Monday and Tuesday evenings from Aug. 23 through Sept. 28



The movies at Bryant Park start around sunset, typically at 8 or 9 p.m.


You have to hustle to keep up with a larger-than-life J.Lo as she struts across the screen determined to give the bros of Wall Street a taste of their own medicine. The irony of screening “Hustlers” near the neighborhood where many of the wealthy men in the movie live only adds to the deliciousness of the leading ladies’ schemes.

It was the second night of Bryant Park’s Movie Night series, and the park was packed. The buzz of cicadas punctuated the rolling strip club soundtrack. Police sirens wailed beyond the film’s boundaries, blurring the line between movie and reality. The meta-nature of watching a film set in New York while sitting in the heart of the city provided an absurdly perfect opportunity for self-reflection that has become a hallmark of life during a pandemic.

The free outdoor Movie Night series offers a low-risk way to enjoy the temperate late nights of a waning summer in the city. With 10 movies playing on Monday and Tuesday nights until Sept. 28, there are still many films waiting in the wings.

The park will debut a “Broadway to Film” series at the tail end of the programming.

“As if” we could even think of a more iconic movie, the series began with the quintessential ’90s flick, “Clueless.” After Cher and her beloved yellow plaid mini skirt sashayed on screen, there will be movies ranging in genre from “Uncut Gems” to “Moonstruck.”

If that’s not enough, prepare to be starstruck. The park will debut a “Broadway to Film” series at the tail end of the programming. Current Broadway musicals with film adaptations such as “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “MOULIN ROUGE!” and “The Phantom of the Opera” are slated to play with surprise guest appearances from people involved in the musical productions. Now that’s something to sing about.

The lawn opens at 5 p.m. with the movies starting at sunset. In order to access the lawn, look for the people in green. They are the gatekeepers. Stationed around the lawn’s four corners, they check vaccination cards and bags before granting access to the grass that is undoubtedly greener on the other side of the gravel.

A CLEAR pass, Excelsior pass or a photo of your vaccination card coupled with a government-issued ID will get you in. Alternatively, tested audience members may show a negative PCR test within three days of the event, along with a government-issued ID. From there, prepare to cozy up under the stars.

On the second night of the series, people sat in clusters on the lawn. Some brought blankets. Others sat in park-provided folding chairs. There was an air of ease emanating from the crowd.

Just outside of the lawn, on the Upper Terrace, more people lounged and watched the movie. This was a distanced area which did not require proof of vaccination or a negative test result. This was also a prime location to hear the disjointed chatter of passersby. Some joked about the scenes playing. Others summed up the movie with divisive brevity, describing it as “that movie where J.Lo is a stripper.” What it lacks in nuance, it makes up for with its pithy, bare-bones reading of the film.

If the caffeine isn’t enough to rouse you from a summer slump, perhaps the energy of simply being around people will do the trick.

While comments from the peanut gallery nourish the soul, there is also real food to sustain the body. In particular, keep an eye out for the Dunkin’ tent in the corner of the lawn. Refreshing treats will make the movie all the sweeter. The park knows their audience well. America may run on Dunkin’, according to the company’s catchy slogan, but New York runs on dreams, preferably cinematic ones, paired with coffee, of course.

If the caffeine isn’t enough to rouse you from a summer slump, perhaps the energy of simply being around people will do the trick. There’s something to be said about the collective power of just sitting and being in the presence of others after so long apart. Think of it like this: movie watching as sitting meditation. The act of breathing in the movie and exhaling it together can really shift the atmosphere.

See for yourself; you may find a more expansive quality to the night air after the end credits roll and people begin to pack up their things. At this point, the music may drift upward and filter through the light pollution haze so you can see the stars. Or maybe they’re just airplanes and the real stars are on Earth.