Even with premier suites rolled out in modern day cinema operators, going to the movies is an accessible luxury for us. In exchange for a good S$11 or so, plus a dollar for booking fee perhaps, we get to fulfill our entertainment needs in plush chairs and a state of the art surround sound system.
Before cineplexes were our go-to entertainment compound, though, people had to content themselves with outdoor cinemas. They would lay their mats on the most strategic patch of grass as the stars shimmered above, providing an opening act of illumination. Right at the front, where a slight gradient allowed for better viewing, was the big screen. Looking around, you could see people’s wonder and anticipation as the blue light highlights their face against a peaceful backdrop of nature.
With your friends, you could huddle together on your 100 by 100 mat, and break bread over the latest gossip as the film prepares for screening. In an open space, sound does not travel so well — you would have gotten a harsh shush from your neighbours if you were to do that in the theatres today.
And if it was with your date, you could hold his or her hand and gaze up at the stars from time to time, relishing the intimacy as the two of you snuggle closer during a particularly romantic scene. Back then, public displays of affection were not condoned (or at least frowned upon to a greater extent), and the movies was the best place to bask in each other’s company — while enjoying the film, of course.
Such a cinematic experience in the great outdoors might be lost now, replaced by velvety seats, frigid air conditioning and restrictive arm rests. But what do you know, there are still a handful of outdoor cinemas for you to have a blast from the past, and have a look at how the stars shine for you if the going gets boring.
Films at the Fort
They only open for a few days in a year, and tickets tend to go out fast. It’s a place that puts up splendid films together with wine and gourmet food stalls. If you are on a budget, this alfresco style theatre allows you to bring your own food and beverages. There is nothing more romantic than a personally prepared picnic for two as the sun sets over the rolling film.
Open Air Cinema Club
The Hive hosts the Open Air Cinema Club monthly. This is where movie junkies can get together on the rooftop of The Hive, with the Singapore cityscape as a backdrop, and watch the screening of the day. They queue a variety of genres from art-house films to modern day favourites, so you’d have to check out updates from their Facebook page. Since The Hive is located conveniently at New Bridge Road, you can gather your corporate buddies every month and enjoy a well-deserved night out after work.
Be My Kaki Bus
Maybe you’ve seen this little bus roaming around the heartlands of Singapore, banding crowds of people from all walks of life — mostly from the movie buff walk, we’d presume. Be My Kaki Bus aims to bring back the kampung spirit through movies; if you count your neighbours as kakis, or you have the slightest of intentions to make new friends in near places, it might be a good idea to keep an eye out for this.
If you fancy yourself a social butterfly on a caterpillar’s budget, Movie Mob could be the best pick for you. Held fortnightly, the Movie Mob picks out a special location to screen a movie for — you guessed it — free! Do bring your own mats and your own basket of picnic-y foodstuffs. This is as close as you can get to the traditional outdoor screening experience. If you are able to, drive in with your date on your next date night, and experience dating like it was in the 1960s, where the privacy was scandalous then, but not so now.
Sunset Cinema at Tanjong Beach is an annual event. As it is extremely well received, getting an entry to this is matter of fastest fingers first. You may find many parallels between Sunset Cinema and say, ZoukOut; it has a DJ on deck, food booths and even bars for you party until the sun comes up — so to speak. It would truly be a beautiful sight to behold when the film rolls against the fading transition of the sky to amber, and then a deep midnight purple.
2018’s dates are to be released soon, so get those fleet fingers ready!