Call us cliché, but we don’t think there’s any better time of year than summer to catch up on all the box office champs you missed the other nine months. After all, schedules are relaxed, bedtimes are delayed and air conditioning is usually in high demand. No matter your summer movie style—flashy action flicks, popular family fare or the nostalgic movies of your childhood—there’s sure to be a spot to indulge in some chilled-out family time. Check out these fun film options.
Drive-ins and dive-ins
Chicagoland only has two remaining drive-ins, those charming relics of the past. Cascade Drive-In can be found in West Chicago, where it screens double features of current releases each weekend. Grill your dinner at the on-site BBQs or stop by the concession stand for some movie-time snacks. Your kids will get a kick out of the vintage ads that run before the main event. At the nostalgic (and dog-friendly) McHenry Outdoor Theater, you can listen to the latest summer blockbusters via ’50s-style speakers, your car radio, or radios you check out for $5. Looking to make a splash this summer? Local park districts, like Orland Park and Highland Park, offer movies while you float or paddle in the pool.
Soak up that AC without spending a fortune at some of your favorite theaters. Regal Cinemas offers its Summer Movie Express with family films for $1 throughout the summer, and Classic Cinemas gets in on the act with its Wednesday Morning Movie Series, which includes games and activities and visits from popular characters (and costs just a buck). Want to make it lunch-and-a-movie? Studio Movie Grill in Wheaton also has dollar options at its luxurious eat-in space (food costs extra).
Go big or go home
Bigger is [usually] better, so you can’t beat seeing a summer blockbuster on a supersized screen. Navy Pier’s IMAX theater is just one of the landmark’s many draws, and it will make you feel like you’ve been transported to another realm far from the shores of Lake Michigan. If you’re looking to combat that pesky summer brain drain in your kiddos (without them catching on), the Museum of Science & Industry’s Omnimax theater presents “Dream Big,” a glimpse into engineering marvels around the world.
The great outdoors
Fresh air and silver screens go hand-in-hand—in Chicago, at least. The Chicago Park District’s “Movies in the Park” are highly anticipated each summer, as they take flicks around the city for some after-dark amusement. The newly opened Park at Wrigley has its own film series in partnership with Music Box Theatre, every-other Wednesday night. Millennium Park has a special daytime screening of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to celebrate its 80th anniversary (Aug. 24), complete with a short program from the Family Fun Festival. Cantigny Park presents films both classic and new on Friday nights all summer long for just $5 a car (Oswego-based Mamie’s Toffee & Treats also sells goodies on-site). And if you like your summer movies with a heavy dose of tunes, Ravinia will screen all three Lord of the Rings films with live orchestral soundtrack.