Even after the (temporary) death of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, franchises rule the summer multiplex: we’re getting a fourth Toy Story, a fourth Men in Black, and a ninth Fast & Furious, and Downton Abbey makes its small-to-silver screen leap late in the season. That’s all well and good—who among us can truly complain about another Toy Story with Keanu Reeves? But Portland summers offer a treasure trove of screenings and series for viewers looking to supplement their blockbuster intake. Here are some of our favorites.
Every Sunday thru Sept 29, Cartopia, FREE
This outdoor series hosted by the popular Southeast Hawthorne food cart pod offers a different flick every single Sunday, all summer long. Settle in with a hefty heaping of poutine from Potato Champion or a deluxe crêpe from Perierra Crêperie, and enjoy the fun selection of classics from Hook to Twister to Back to the Future, plus many more.
Every Wednesday thru Sept 25, Pix Pâtisserie, free with a $5 food/beverage minimum
East Burnside’s French bakery/baking school/chocolatier packs 19 (!!) titles into its summer series, screened onsite every Wednesday around 7 p.m. Family classics like Toy Story and The Princess Bride bump up against cult favorites like Heathers and Rocky Horror. Free popcorn, a seven-tap beer and cider garden, Winona Ryder writing with a quill pen… how very.
June 21–Sept 1, various parks, FREE
This major volunteer-led effort, spearheaded by Portland Parks & Recreation along with the Portland Parks Foundation, puts on 32 free movie screenings at city parks this summer. Here's just a handful of the offerings, which begin after dusk:
- June 21: Black Panther, King School Park
- July 25: Incredibles 2, McCoy Park
- July 26: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Unthank Park
- July 28: E.T., Wellington Park
- Aug 8: Coco, Woodlawn Park
- Aug 15: Slumdog Millionaire, Laurelhurst Park
- Aug 23: Mary Poppins Returns, Luuwit View Park
June 21–Aug 29, Academy Theater, $4
Montavilla’s technicolor gem screens classics of all stripes year-round (for FOUR! DOLLARS!), and its summer programming is pretty inspired. Highlights include North by Northwest on 35mm, Friday the 13th Part III (the one that finally introduced the hockey mask) in good-ol’ red-blue 3D, and The Last Unicorn, a movie you remember as absolute nightmare fuel—but you forgot that it stars both Mia Farrow and Angela Lansbury and boasts an insane soundtrack of dark folk ballads by America.
July 8–11, Hollywood Theatre, Clinton Street Theater, Cinema 21, Whitsell Auditorium, prices vary by theater
NW Documentary, a Portland nonprofit dedicated to supporting local documentary film, is behind Canopy Stories, an anthology project collecting 12 shorts by Portland filmmakers, each of which tells a story relating to a different Portland tree. This unique cross-section of urban forestry will be available all over the city via the four-theater collaboration known as the Portland Circuit. Part I can be seen at the Hollywood Theatre and Cinema 21, and Part II at the Clinton Street Theater and Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Select Saturdays, June 29–Aug 3, various locations, FREE
In 2016 the Hollywood Theatre and the Oregon State Parks Department decided to join forces, and the result was this annual series, which offers free film screenings enveloped in the beauty of Oregon’s state parks. This year’s crop includes ’80s comedy classics (Beetlejuice; Raising Arizona) as well as newer family fare (Moana), each paired with its own park. Some films even come with a bonus activity—L.L. Stub Stewart State Park’s screening of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is followed by a star-viewing party hosted by Rose City Astronomers.
July 25–28, Portland State’s PS2 Parking Structure (1724 SW Broadway), $12.50 per screening
The NW Film Center’s long-running summer series, typically a multi-week event, packs all its starlit celluloid into a single week this year. Titles include noir classic Laura; Boy, a New Zealand mega-hit from Flight of the Conchords mastermind Taika Waititi; sci-fi cult freakout Night of the Comet; and—rounding out an excellent lineup—Wayne’s World. All screenings will be held atop the PS2 parking structure at Portland State, which replaced the Hotel DeLuxe as the festival’s home last summer. As usual, locally produced short films will roll before each feature.
Every Friday July 26–Aug 23, Pioneer Courthouse Square, FREE
The family staple, which takes over Pioneer Courthouse Square for five consecutive Fridays every summer, loops in brand-new classics Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Crazy Rich Asians this year. Music starts at 7 p.m., showtime hits around sundown. Entry is free, but be sure to pack a healthy supply of blankets/chairs/cushions, lest you leave Temple of Doom with a rotten back and brick-print battle scars.
7:30 p.m. Tue, July 30, Hollywood Theatre, $9 for non-members
Spike Lee’s masterpiece is an essential work of American cinema, and there’s no better time to experience it (or re-experience it) than in the blistering summer heat. The 1989 film tracks rising tensions in a Brooklyn neighborhood on the hottest day of the year, with deep-seated discontent bubbling to the surface alongside sizzling temperatures. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, Lee’s impassioned examination of American racial dynamics is perhaps more incisive than ever.