Open air cinemas first began at around 1916 in Berlin, Germany.
Viewers usually sit on camping chairs or blankets. Some Hollywood world premieres were screened in outdoor cinemas – sometimes with the stars in attendance. Most screenings are free with some raising money for charities.
As projector prices have decreased, guerrilla style outdoor cinemas have become more common. These are run on a very small budget by groups of amateurs. It is common for the events to be organised online, participants then meet in parks, empty parking lots or other public places. Guerrilla outdoor cinemas are very basic, often needing to be completely setup and dismantled in a single night. Sheets, portable screens or existing walls are used as a screen for the projected image. Power is obtained from generators or car batteries.
Large and well known open air cinemas include the Outdoor Cinema Food Fest in California, Oshkosh’s Fly-In theater or Screen on the Green (Atlanta). More and more often prestigious film festivals add outdoor movies to their regular screenings. Some of the most important outdoor movie events were the world premiere of Shark Tale on St. Mark’s Square at Venice Film Festival (2004) and open air at Dubai International Film Festival (2011).
There are also more private open air cinemas, sometimes as a part of a pool or backyard party. Unusual locations to show a movie outdoors include of skyscraper rooftops, screens floating on a lake with spectators sitting on boats or drive-in cinemas on the top floor of a parking garage. A special type of outdoor cinema is the drive-in theater.