Rooftop Cinema Club delights L.A. with outdoor screenings

The Ricardo Montalban Theatre is a brightly lit, monolithic brick structure on Vine Street. The Hollywood Walk of Fame and the throngs of tourists it brings to the city’s streets serves as the hallmark of the L.A. entertainment

The Rooftop Cinema Club has returned to the rooftop of the iconic Montalban Theatre for a third season of movie screenings — from cult classics to Academy Award-winning  favorites. Almost all tickets for movie screenings were sold out even before the screenings began in early April:  L.A. audiences are eager to experience a movie while surrounded by downtown Hollywood’s bright neon signage, looming billboards and sky-high buildings.

The Rooftop Cinema Club hosts weekend and weekday screenings throughout April and May, but guests must have reserved tickets and be over 18 years old to attend.

The view from the Montalban’s rooftop is breathtaking, although the flights of stairs up to the top — the only way up — leave guests breathless. Guests enter through a dimly lit, obscure gate on the right side of the Montalban, ascending to the roof through an outdoor staircase.

A painted Audrey Hepburn portrait greets enthused moviegoers on their climb. The actress’ portrait adds to the glamorous bright lights surrounding the Montalban, and the Broadway Hollywood condos’ electric blue sign shines as the backdrop of the outdoor cinema theatre.

Once at the top, guests check in at a small booth to receive wireless headphones and a soft navy blanket — complimentary additions to the movie-watching experience. Unlike modern movie theaters with plush leather seats, the Rooftop Cinema Club’s seats resemble comfortable lawn chairs.

The seats line up in long rows, and since the chairs elongate to have the viewer naturally lean back, having a clear view of the screen is not a problem. Guests are able to choose their seats on a first-come, first-serve basis once they check in.

Couples also have the option of buying a loveseat ticket, a two-person lounger with bottomless popcorn and two drinks, for a higher price. For those who don’t want to splurge or are simply looking to have a rooftop movie experience with friends, the navy blanket and snug lawn chairs already come with the basic ticket.

Since movies are shown outdoors to the background noise of busy L.A. streets, headphones provide crisp, adjustable audio for the audience to enjoy. Nevertheless, there are still two small speakers in the back of the cinema space that play external audio, although muffled by wind. The only drawback of the wireless headphones is that it is difficult for guests to communicate during the movie, unless they entirely removed the audio gadget.

The Rooftop Cinema Club’s last screening of the season will be held on May 31, but due to its overwhelming popularity, it’s almost guaranteed that the outdoor movie theater will be back for another season in Los Angeles.