For movie lovers, there’s more to the summer film season than the biggest blockbuster at the cineplex.

Get lost in “The Fast and the Furious,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “Cool Hand Luke” while surrounded by the garden artistry the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Families can sit under the stars and enjoy “Lego Batman” at the Greenwood Public Library, or float along at the Franklin pool’s “dive-in” showing of “Free Willy.”

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At Canary Creek Cinema in Franklin, savor one of the last drive-in movie theaters operating in the state.

The outdoor movie experience is a unique opportunity that only comes along during the summer months. That experience used to be found only in drive-ins.

But while that option still remains at places such as Canary Creek, local parks, pools and other organizations are offering a chance to sit under the stars and take in movies in a whole different way.

To help plan your movie-going adventures, here is a guide to all of the best outdoor film experiences around the city this summer. From comedies to dramas to beloved animated selections for the kids, there’s something for every kind of taste.

Starlight Movie Night

Where: Greenwood Public Library, 310 S. Meridian St.

When: 7:30 p.m. June 30

Cost: Free

What: The Greenwood Public Library has held its Starlight Movie Night for the past seven years, setting up a massive outdoor screen and planning a night of activities around it. This year’s showing is “Lego Batman,” and organizers are offering a costume contest, kids crafts, games, Lego trivia and raffle prizes.

Dive-In Movies

Where: Franklin Family Aquatics Center, 396 Branigin Blvd.

When: 9 p.m. June 22 and July 25

Cost: Free

What: The Franklin Parks Department took the concept of watching a movie under the stars and added another summertime favorite to the mix. Night swim at the Franklin pool while watching carefully selected movies. The pool hosted “Finding Dory” in late May, and will show “Free Willy” during its Evening of Play event. A third film, “Elf” will be part of the pool’s Christmas in July celebration.

Canary Creek Cinema

Where: 870 Mallory Parkway, Franklin

When: 9 p.m. Fridays through Sunday. Box office opens at 7:30.

Cost: $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 5 to 11

What: Most drive-in theaters are relics from the ‘50s and ‘60s, renovated and revived for a modern audience. But Canary Creek is the state’s newest drive-in, built in 2005 next to the existing indoor cineplex. Every weekend, families come in cars, pickup trucks and SUVs, setting up camp and settling in for a double feature. The selections change weekend to weekend, with the best first-run films slated throughout the summer.

Summer Nights Film Series

Where: Indianapolis Museum of Art, 4000 Michigan Ave.

When: 7 p.m. select Fridays and Saturdays

Cost: $8 for museum members, $12 for the public

What: On the grassy tiered amphitheater overlooking woods and gardens, the museum has created a must-hit experience during summers in central Indiana. Their annual film series draws tens of thousands of people every year, as people pack picnics, roll out their blankets and take in a curated selection of titles ranging from cult hits to old classics. This year’s schedule is:

Friday: “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”

June 10: “The Jungle Book”

June 17: “Batman Returns”

June 23: “The Fast and the Furious”

June 30: “Funny Face”

July 1: “Bedknobs & Broomsticks”

July 7: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

July 28: “Friday”

July 29: “Stand By Me”

Aug. 4: “9 to 5”

Aug. 11: “Arsenic & Old Lace”

Aug. 18: “Serenity”

Aug. 19: “Cool Hand Luke”

Aug. 25: “Blazing Saddles”

Movies on the Lawn

Where: Garfield Park Arts Centers, 2432 Conservatory Drive, Indianapolis

When: Dusk, June 17 and July 15

Cost: Free

What: At the historic Garfield Park, film buffs can take in one of the southside’s most relaxing natural environments while enjoying a slate of popular recent movies. Organizers will be showing “The Boss Baby” on the arts center lawn on June 17, but will move to the adjacent MacAllister Amphitheater on July 15 for what is sure to be a popular option: a screening of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

Hotel Broad Ripple

Where: 6520 E. Westfield Blvd., Indianapolis

When: 9 p.m. Thursdays

Cost: Free

What: Every Thursday, the quaint boutique hotel just north of the Broad Ripple hosts a viewing party for a variety of films for both adults and children. Blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets are encouraged, with a limited amount of tables and chairs available for guests. This year’s lineup is:

Thursday: “Trolls”

June 15: “Father of the Bride”

June 22: “Casablanca”

June 29: “Step Brothers”

July 6: “Arrival”

July 13: “Sing”

July 20: “The Fifth Element”

July 27: “A Bug’s Life”

August 3: “Napoleon Dynamite”

August 10: “Mad Max”

August 17: “Zootopia”

August 24: “Gravity”

August 31: “Jurassic Park”

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.