20+ Outdoor Movies To Catch This Summer In and Around Raleigh

From sci-fi blockbusters to family-friendly sing-alongs, check out this list of movies showing underneath the stars in the Triangle this summer. 
by Kara Adams

This summer, numerous parks and parking lots around the Triangle will be lighting up the night sky with screenings of new releases like Top Gun: Maverick, animated family favorites including Encanto and The Mitchells vs The Machines, and romance flicks like Love and Basketball. With a litany of outdoor movie series at local institutions such as the North Carolina Museum of Art, Koka Booth Amphitheatre, and Dorothea Dix Park, spend more time in the outside in the evenings this summer by seeing films in the open air. 

Paw Patrol the Movie at Orange County Central Recreation Center

Bring the kids out to Hillsborough to see their favorite crime-fighting dogs save the citizens of Adventure City on a giant 30-foot screen. Make sure to bring lawn chairs or blankets to spread out on the field and enjoy select food and beverages available for purchase at the venue. 

May 27 | 8:30 p.m.; free; 302 W. Tryon Street, Hillsborough; orangecountync.gov

Top Gun: Maverick at the Triangle Drive In

See Tom Cruise reprise his iconic role of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, one of the U.S. Navy’s most elite aviators in this action-packed feature. Make it dinner and a movie by grabbing food from the food court in Triangle Town Center before the show, or snack on some onsite concessions including popcorn, cotton candy, and frozen treats.

May  27 – June 4 | 8:45 – 11:15 p.m.; $12; 5959 Triangle Town Blvd; triangledrive.in

Godzilla vs Kong at Koka Booth Amphitheatre

As a part of their Movies by Moonlight series, WakeMed presents Godzilla vs Kong with a portion of the proceeds benefiting WakeMed Children’s services. The 2021 sci-fi thriller pits two of cinema’s greatest titans against each other in an epic battle featuring stars such as Millie Bobby Brown and Julian Dennison. 

June 2 | 8:30 p.m.; $5; 8003 Regency Pkwy, Cary; boothamphitheatre.com 

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 at Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre

Take a mini road trip to Henderson to see Jim Carrey, Ben Schwartz, and Idris Elba star in the comedic sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog. Check out Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre’s full menu featuring hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches and unique dessert items such as Oreo churros and funnel cake fries alongside tried and true classics like popcorn and candy. 

June 3 – 5 & 8 | 11:15 p.m.; $10; 3336 Raleigh Road, Henderson; raleighroaddrivein.com 

Firestarter at Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre

Ryan Kiera Armstrong and Zac Efron star in a horror remake of the 1984 cult classic, Firestarter, inspired by the thrilling Stephen King novel. Come early to see a double header starting at 9 p.m. with Jurassic World Dominion

June 10 – 12 | 11:30  p.m.; $10; 3336 Raleigh Road, Henderson; raleighroaddrivein.com

Jurassic World Dominion at the Carraway Village Drive In

Pop the trunk of your car and tune your radio for an old-fashioned drive-in feature of the franchise finale, Jurassic World Dominion, at Chapel Hill’s Carraway Village. Enjoy freshly made buttery popcorn from the concession stand, or pay an extra fee of $10 to pack your own picnic or pick up some outside food and beverages on the way over. 

June 10 – 23 | 8: 45 p.m.; $10; 600 Carraway Crossing, Chapel Hill; carrawayvillagedrivein.com

Summer of Soul at the NCMA

Join the North Carolina Museum of Art for Juneteenth Joy: The Sound, Fashion, and Cinema of Freedom, a celebration of Black culture and liberation that includes a DJ set by Brian Dawson and dance party before a film screening of Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s Oscar-winning documentary Summer of Soul. Wear your finest 1960s-inspired clothes as you revisit the Harlem Cultural Festival through archival footage of performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, B. B. King, and more. 

June 18 | 6 – 10:30 p.m.; $15; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Encanto at the NCMA

Finally learn why “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” at this screening of Encanto at Joseph M. Bryan, Jr., Theater in the Museum Park. This family musical from Disney follows the Madrigal family through the mountains of Colombia as they try to protect their magical gifts and beloved Casita from impending danger. 

June 24 | 8:30 – 10:30 p.m.; $9.65; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Soul at the NCMA

The Outdoor Films Series at the NCMA presents Soul, a heartwarming Pixar movie starring Jamie Foxx as a middle-school band teacher with a passion for jazz music. Check out the picnic baskets offered for events at the NCMA full of pasta, sandwiches, fruit, drinks, and more available for order 72 hours before the movie for pickup at the East Cafe. 

June 25 | 8:30 – 10:30 p.m.; $9.65; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

The Mitchells vs The Machines at Koka Booth Amphitheatre

Head to Cary for an open-air screening of the animated comedy/adventure flick The Mitchells vs The Machines starring Abbi Jacobson as Katie Mitchell, an incoming film student at college who’s big dreams quickly get derailed by a robot apocalypse. 

June 30 | 8:30 p.m.; $5; 8003 Regency Pkwy, Cary; boothamphitheatre.com 

Minions: The Rise of Gru at Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre

Tune your car radio to 90.3 to hear the Jack Antonoff-produced soundtrack featuring Diana Ross, Tame Impala, Phoebe Bridgers, and more covering iconic 70s hits that has caused a new wave of hype for the newest installment in the Minions franchise. Finally learn the original story of Steve Carrell’s Gru and make sure to check out the schedule for the night before you head over, as a single ticket to a Raleigh Road movie often includes access to multiple films back to back. 

July 1 | 8:45 p.m.; $10; 3336 Raleigh Road, Henderson; raleighroaddrivein.com

Spider-Man: No Way Home at the NCMA

Grab a blanket and a lawn chair to revisit one of the highest grossing movies of all time in the great outdoors. See Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Mans come together to fight a long list of villains from their past in this nostalgia-packed adventure film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

July 8 | 8:30 – 11 p.m.; $9.65; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings at the NCMA

Simu Liu stars alongside Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung Chiu-wai as trained assassin Shang-Chi, one of the newest superheroes to enter the MCU. Spread out under the night sky and let yourself get transported to Ta Lo, the separate dimension where Chinese mythological creatures fight alongside humans to protect their village. 

July 9 | 8:30 – 11 p.m.; $9.65; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Moana at Dorothea Dix Park

Dress up as your favorite superhero or princess and head over to Dorothea Dix Park for a screening of Disney’s family musical Moana. You’ll have a chance to meet some of your favorite movie characters and see “How Far I’ll Go” to win a prize for best costume!

July 16 | 7 p.m.; free; 1030 Richardson Drive; dixpark.org

Raya and the Last Dragon at Koka Booth Amphitheatre

Round up family and friends for another Movie by Moonlight at Koka Booth starting at dusk. Kelly Marie Tran stars as Raya, a warrior princess on a quest to find the last dragon and save her family before her rival Namaari can thwart her plans. 

July 22 | 8:30 p.m.; $5; 8003 Regency Pkwy, Cary; boothamphitheatre.com 

Dune at the NCMA

Denis Villeneuve’s Oscar-winning sci-fi adaptation of Dune returns to the big screen at the NCMA’s outdoor theater. Watch the star-studded cast, led by Timothée Chalamet, as they face danger and loss on the desert planet of Arrakis. 

July 23 | 8:30 – 11 p.m.; $9.65; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org 

Space Jam: A New Legacy at Durham Central Park

Join Durham Parks and Recreation for a film screening of Space Jam: A New Legacy in their Rock the Park Concert & Movie Series. Bring blankets or lawn chairs and watch as LeBron James is joined by members of the Looney Tunes in a rival basketball game of incredibly high stakes. 

July 23 | 8:30 – 10:30 p.m.; free; 501 Foster Street, Durham; dprplaymore.org 

Jungle Cruise at Koka Booth Amphitheatre

If you’re having Disney World FOMO this summer, head to Cary for a screening of Jungle Cruise, a fantasy adventure film based on the eponymous long-standing theme park ride. Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt star as caption Frank Wolff and Dr. Lily Houghton on a journey down the Amazon river in search of a powerful ancient tree. 

July 22 | 8:30 p.m.; $5; 8003 Regency Pkwy, Cary; boothamphitheatre.com 

Judas and the Black Messiah at the NCMA

Daniel Kaluuya takes on the role of Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton in a biographical crime drama chronicling his activism and life’s work leading up to his betrayal in 1969 by FBI informant William O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield). The film, directed by Shaka King, was made with the consultation of Fred Hampton’s widow, Akua Njeri, and son Fred Hampton Jr..

July 30 | 8:30 – 10:30 p.m.; $9.65; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Nightmare Alley at the NCMA

Steel your nerves for an epic 150-minute screening of the 2021 thriller Nightmare Alley directed by Guillermo del Toro. Set in New York during the 1940s, this film follows con man Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) as he uses the skills he picked up in a carnival troupe to swindle the rich and famous alongside co-stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. 

August 6 | 8:30 – 11 p.m.; $9.65; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Nomadland at the NCMA

Based on the book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder, this drama follows Frances McDormand as Fern, a woman embarking through the American West on her van after losing everything in the Great Recession. Round up your blankets and head to the NCMA for this limited chance to see the Academy Award winner for Best Picture back on the big screen. 

August 13 | 8:30 – 10:30 p.m.; $9.65; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org 

West Side Story at the NCMA

Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story revisits the beloved musical and age-old tale of forbidden love as rival gangs clash in New York City. NCMA’s outdoor films often sell out, so grab your tickets early to see the Romeo and Juliet inspired romance featuring Raleigh’s own Academy Award winning actress Ariana DeBose under the night sky. 

August 6 | 8:30 – 11 p.m.; $9.65; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Love and Basketball at Durham Central Park

Get ready to go “double or nothing” at this screening of the iconic 2000 romance movie Love and Basketball starring Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps as basketball players and lifelong lovers. Food vendors will be onsite to provide snacks and beverages during the movie. 

August 20 | 8:30 – 10:30 p.m.; free; 501 Foster Street, Durham; dprplaymore.org  

Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre, the Carraway Village Drive In, the Triangle Drive In, Koka Booth Amphitheatre, Dorothea Dix Park, and Apex Nature Park Amphitheatre are frequently announcing new outdoor movie screenings. Check back on their websites to stay up to date.