Outdoor movies under the stars have become an annual event during our long hot summers. This year will be no different, with Moonlight Cinema again taking up residence in Sydney from 11 December to 29 March, on the grass in Centennial Park at the Belvedere Amphitheatre.

Melbourne screenings run from 4 December to 29 March at the Central Lawn in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

IMG_0128To launch the preview of the summer programme, a pop-up picnic was held in the middle of Sydney’s Martin Place. Green grass, complete with deck chairs and umbrellas was an unusual sight in the heart of the city’s financial district and seemed to grab the attention of intrigued passers by. A shining silver food truck served up a selection of items from the new LA Style street food menu that will be available for movie goers.

What could be better than watching all the hottest new release films outside in the fresh night air, as well as seeing them before they hit cinemas. Moonlight’s December and January programme has over 20 different advance screenings.

Fans of Bill Murray will be able to catch him in “St Vincent” more than a week before the cinemas. Other titles showing at Moonlight before the rest of Australia include Disney’s latest “Big Hero 6” about a boy and his plus-size, inflatable robot, “Birdman”, the superhero film with an art-house edge starring Michael Keaton and Emma Stone plus the latest Liam Neeson action movie “Taken 3” as well as “Unbroken”, the WWII drama filmed in Sydney and directed by Angelina Jolie.

IMG_0130Aussie cinema will be celebrated on Australia Day Eve, with the screening of “The Water Diviner”, telling the moving story of an Australian man, played by Russell Crowe, who travels to Turkey after the battle at Gallipoli to try and locate his three missing sons. “The Water Diviner” will also be shown as an advance screening on 19 December.

Some cult favourites playing this season include “Dirty Dancing”, “Top Gun”, “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show”.

Special sing-a-long nights have been programmed for those who want to belt out all the classic tunes, along with the stars up on the screen, including the 50s high school classic “Grease”.

The popular Doggie Nights, for canine loving cinephiles who can’t bear to be parted from their furry friends, have increased and will take place every Thursday night in January and every second Thursday during February and March.

As always, Moonlight Cinema’s Gold Grass offers the ultimate outdoor cinema experience, with waiter service and reserved bean beds in a premium viewing location.

Movie fans can bring their own picnic or try some of the street fare on sale from the new LA style food truck onsite.

There’s something for every film fanatic at this season’s Moonlight Cinema. Gates open an hour and a half before the film starts.

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond

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