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10 films you should see at Movies in the Park this summer

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

The full list of Movies in the Parks screenings has been released, which means it's time to begin factoring some evenings of outdoor cinema into your summer calendar. From June 2 through September parks all over Chicago put up screens and host open-air showings of recent blockbusters and a few classics—plus, you're also allowed to sneak in your own snacks. 

We've combed through the 2017 Movie in the Parks lineup and picked 10 movies that are worth a trip to the park, even if you've already seen them in theaters.

The Lego Batman Movie

Forget about Ben Affleck, the best version of Batman to grace the silver screen over the past year is made of (digital) plastic. Kids will love The Lego Batman Movie for its action and jokes, but adults will appreciate the stellar voice cast (including Mariah Carey as the Mayor of Gotham) and deep references to past Batman films and comics.

Playing at West Lawn Park (June 22), Independence Park (July 21), Veterans' Memorial Park (July 28), Kennicott Park (July 29), Cragin Park (Aug 8), Washtenaw Park (Aug 17), Edgebrook Park (Aug 17) and Wrightwood Park (Aug 18)

I Am Not Your Negro

Documentaries aren't usually included in the Movies in the Park lineup, but DuSable Museum will host a screening of this extended archival footage montage based around an unfinished essay by activist and writer James Baldwin. It's a sobering (and necessary) reminder of the United States' history of inequality and the racial discrimination that is present today.

Playing at Washington Park (Aug 10)

North By Northwest

On a lineup packed with recent Oscar nominees and box office dominators, this classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller is a welcome outlier. The infamous scene depicting Cary Grant being chased by an airplane doubles as a preview of the Chicago Air and Water Show.

Playing at Lincoln Park, south of Belmont Harbor (June 12)

Southside With You

It's only fitting that the South Side of Chicago host two screenings of this romantic biopic, which recreates Barack Obama's first date with his wife Michelle (including the couple's first kiss at a Baskin Robbins in Hyde Park).

Playing at Grand Crossing Park (Aug 1) and Washington Park (Aug 19) 

Star Wars: Rogue One

Discover how the Death Star plans fell into the hands of the Rebel Alliance in this clever prequel to the 1977 film that launched the Star Wars franchise. Come for the sassy robots and hapless Stormtroopers and make sure you stay for a particularly vicious Darth Vader scene. 

Playing at Daniel Webster Park (June 27), Ward (Aaron Montgomery) Park (July 11), Margate Park Fieldhouse (July 14), South Shore Cultural Center (Aug 21) and McGuane Park (Aug 23)

Raiders of the Lost Ark

The first Indiana Jones film was seemingly crafted for outdoor screenings—in fact, it's a little surprising that it's only playing once this summer. Packed with action, questionable archeology and some Nazi face-melting, it's the kind of crowd-pleasing blockbuster that only gets better with age. 

Playing at Daniel Webster Park (July 17)


Based on August Wilson's 1983 play, Denzel Washington plays an inner-city sanitation worker who grapples with missed opportunities and failure through his relationship with an estranged son. Make sure to pack some tissues in your picnic basket.

Playing at Lowe Playground Park (June 22) and Lindblom Park (Aug 4)

Hidden Figures

Another Oscar nominee, Hidden Figures tells the unsung story of the female African-American mathematicians who played key roles at NASA during the Space Race in the ’50s and ’60s. The onscreen dynamic between Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe will leave you hoping for a sequel.

Playing at Tuley Park (June 19), Douglas Park (Aug 6) and Burnside Park (Aug 9)


If you have kids and you don't want to subject yourself to yet another screening of Frozen, Disney's latest animated outing will serve as a welcome respite—especially since it features songs penned by Hamilton scribe Lin-Manuel Miranda. 

Playing at Normandy Playground Park (July 27), Schreiber Playground Park (July 28), Green Briar Park (Aug 4), Sauganash Park (Aug 5), Roosevelt Park (Aug 8), Abbott Park (Aug 18), LeClaire Courts/Hearst Community (Aug 18), Jonquil Park (Aug 20) and Hamlin Park (Sept 7)

La La Land

You'll be able to sing and dance along to this modern musical (the one that almost won Best Picture at the Oscars this year) when it screens outdoors this summer. Just refrain from showing off your pipes and moves atop nearby parked cars—your recreation of “Another Day of Sun” shouldn't set off alarms.

Playing at Bartelme, Mary Park (June 14), Jonquil Park (June 25), Ward (Aaron Montgomery) Park (July 18) and Independence Park (Aug 18)

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