Hollywood may be buzzing about the record-breaking box office performance of New Orleans-shot Jurassic World, which raked in $511.8 million worldwide in its opening weekend earlier this month, but that doesn't mean you need to spend big bucks for a night at the movies this summer. In fact, the most exciting film programming in the city is not the chain theaters' familiar combin ation of superhero franchises and studio comedies, but the affordable — often free — options provided by independent exhibitors.
Burgundy Picture House
4117 Burgundy St.; www.picturehousenola.com/screenings. Free screenings every other Tuesday, weather permitting. Doors open at 8 p.m., movie at 8:30 p.m.
The outdoor Bywater screening space, which offers free, biweekly presentations of cutting-edge, art house and foreign films, $1 beers (or BYOB) and food by Hey Y'all Catering, has a reputation for idiosyncratic programming in addition to its easygoing vibe, and this summer's tribute to documentarian Frederick Wiseman is no exception. A pioneer of the fly-on-the-wall style critics often label "direct cinema" — a term Wiseman calls "horrible" — the filmmaker focuses on the intersection of the individual and the institutions in which they operate, from hospitals for the criminally insane (Titicut Follies) to New England port cities (Belfast, Maine).
Locations vary, (504) 309-6633; www.neworleansfilmsociety.org. Admission free and pets welcome at N. Broad Street and Palmer Park screenings; $5 suggested donation and pets prohibited at Clouet Gardens screenings. All screenings begin at sundown.
When New Orleans Film Society's annual outdoor screening series returns Sept. 12 with the children's classic The NeverEnding Story, summer will be on the wane — which means the weather will finally be perfect for an evening under the stars. "We try to select films that are touchstone films for audiences," rather than obscure, never-before-seen titles, says New Orleans Film Society Director of Programming Clint Bowie. "Moonlight Movies is about celebrating a shared love of cinema."
Held at rotating locations around the city, including the rooftop of the Whole Foods Market on North Broad Street, the Arts Market of New Orleans at Palmer Park and Clouet Gardens in Bywater, Moonlight Movies features family fare and masterpieces alike, from Sidney Lumet's Motown-inspired The Wiz (Sept. 26) to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (Nov. 13). Pack a picnic, roll out a blanket, and watch a flick under the night sky.
Open Screen New Orleans
Locations vary; www.cinemareset.com/open-screen. Admission is free. The next Open Screen will be held July 2 at 8 p.m. at The Old Firehouse, 720 Mandeville St..
Whether you're a budding director, a home movie hobbyist or simply a supporter of New Orleans' increasingly vibrant film culture, Open Screen is a window into Hollywood South's indie counterpart. "The work in New Orleans [at Open Screen] is very much impacted by the city," filmmaker and Cinema Reset co-founder Blake Bertucelli, who established Open Screen New Orleans, said in an interview last year, adding that "75 to 80 percent of the films are directly dealing with themes about New Orleans."
The first Thursday of every month, filmmakers present 10-minute selections from student films, works in progress and finished projects before inviting discussion and feedback from the audience.One need not know 1080p projection from 35-millimeter film to participate, however. According to the group's Facebook page, Open Screen New Orleans "provides a platform for anyone to share their cinematic wunderwerk."
Prytania Theatre Classic
5339 Prytania St., 504-891-2787; www.prytaniatheatreneworleans.com. Tickets $5.75.
With inexpensive family films screening four times weekly from July 3 to Aug. 12, you can introduce the little ones to your own childhood favorites without breaking the bank. Wednesday and Sundays through the end of the month, the oldest single-screen movie theater in Louisiana features Marilyn Monroe vehicles The Seven Year Itch (June 21 and 24) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (June 28 and July 1). For more kid-friendly options, July and August offer an expanded schedule of iconic titles, from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins to The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz.
Robert E. Nims Theatre, University of New Orleans, 2000 Lakeshore Drive; www.shotguncinema.org. Tickets $7, students $5 with valid ID. Tickets are available at the door the night of the screening only,
Since founding Shotgun Cinema in December 2013, Executive Director Angela Catalano and Technical Director Travis Bird have transformed the fledging non- profit into one of the city's foremost purveyors of independent and repertory filmmaking. At $7 apiece, tickets are more affordable than the average multiplex, but the real value of Shotgun is its com- mitment to screening rarities old and new at the highest standards of film and digital projection.
In addition to the upcoming series "Summer Camp" (June 25-26) and "Jeff Goldblum Must Go Faster" (July 9-10), the latter of which includes a well-timed showing of the original Jurassic Park, Shotgun Cinema's newest venture is the inaugural "True Orleans" (Aug. 14-16). Sponsored by WWNO-FM, the documentary film festival will showcase feature-length and short documentaries as well as panels and workshops about the art of nonfiction. The full schedule has yet to be announced, but Shotgun already has booked the New Orleans premiere of the Sundance Film Festival sensation (T)ERROR, with filmmakers Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe scheduled to attend.