Well, the only thing that is going to cost you money will be the popcorn, and the internet connection on your phone, set-top box or laptop.
You don’t have money in your budget for a Netflix subscription or Amazon Prime? Do not fret, as long as you have an internet connection; you can still enjoy movies. The only thing is that you may not be able to stream latest Hollywood movies, but you can still enjoy gems like ‘The Imitation Game, ‘Apollo 13’ and many more classics, all without spending extra cash.
Below are eight services that offer free and legal movies you can watch online. Note that selections change frequently, so all the titles listed here may still be available.
Crackle owned by Sony is an ad-supported streaming service, it gives both movies and TV shows including original content. It is made available on a vast variety of devices and doesn’t even need you to create an account, although creating an account allows you to get recommendations, save your favourites, and resume playback if you switch between devices.
Crackle shows or offers mostly older movies, but there are some award-winning, top-rated titles in the mix.
What you can watch: Crackle’s selection has become better vividly in recent months, with well over a hundred movies available at any given time (the selection changes occasionally). As at when this article was written, there were gems like ‘Point Break’, ‘The Karate Kid’, ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ and ‘Serenity’ mixed in with some decidedly C-grade fare. They are all older films, to be sure, but there’s still plenty of quality stuff to watch. Just have it in mind that there will be some occasional commercial interruption.
Where you can watch: Crackle’s list of supported devices is broad. The service has apps for all mobile platforms, game consoles and major streaming devices, and it’s even embedded into many smart TVs. By the way, it doesn’t have the option to download movies for offline viewing.
Do you have a library card? Check to see if your library is in partnership with Hoopla. This digital-media service enables you to check out all kinds of stuff movies included. When you ‘borrow’ a movie, you have 72 hours to watch it. Your library determines the total amount of movies you can borrow each month.
Hoopla is a subscription service, and through a public library, you may have access to its features.
What you can watch: It’s hard to tell how many movies Hoopla has available at any given time, but you can browse a large range of genres, everything from a generous selection of family-friendly content to African films of the 1970s and 1980s. Some remarkable picks that were available during the time this article was written include ‘The Lost City of Z’, ‘Annie’ and ‘The Commitments’.
Where you can watch: Hoopla’s content can be viewed on your PC in a browser, or on iOS or Android devices. You can cast from those devices to an Apple TV or a Google Chromecast (Gen 1 or 2). Shockingly, Hoopla’s mobile apps don’t have only streaming, but also an option for download for offline viewing.
The Internet Archive is residence to all things public-domain, including lots of feature-length movies. Maybe unsurprisingly, there’s no cost to make use of this service, nor do you need to register although you can register or create an account if you want to mark favourites and so on.
A lot of classic movies and TV shows can be found on the Internet Archive.
What you can watch: ‘Public domain’ is a code for ‘mostly black and white’ or/and ‘old’, which makes this place (Hoopla) a service for folks who are strictly interested in classic films. Thus you’ll find the likes of ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’, ‘His Girl Friday’ and ‘Gulliver’s Travels’.
Where you can watch: The internet Archive is present exclusively on the web, so you will need a browser to access it. However, most mobile browsers like Safari on iOS and Chrome for Android can stream the content.
If your public library doesn’t offer Hoopla, maybe it has Kanopy. This service, which started off in Australia, has made its way to over 3,000 college campuses worldwide and more lately, various US libraries. For the moment, however, only a few offer the service, most particularly public libraries in New York and Los Angeles. Check Kanopy’s website to find out if your library has it and ask for it if it doesn’t.
What you can watch: Given the fact that it’s educationally inclined, it not a surprise that Kanopy has largely indie films and documentaries from the likes of The Great Courses and PBS. But its 26,000 strong library also includes titles from the respected Criterion Collection, which is code for ‘films’. There are few normal blockbusters that can be found but doesn’t have a shortage of thoughtful and award-winning movies.
Where you can watch: Kanopy has apps for Android and iOS and has a Roku channel.
Home to the internet’s largest library of free commercial movies although not certainly commercial-free, Tubi TV gives content from studios including Lionsgate, Paramount and MGM. Also like Crackle, it’s available on a broad range of devices and doesn’t require an account, although doing so allows you to save favourites and resume playback if you switch between devices.
Tubi TV has many free movies that available for viewing, as long as you don’t mind a few commercials.
What you can watch: Tubi TV offers a variety of movies in the neighbourhood of 46,000 according to the company, although only 15,000 to 20,000 are in active rotation at any given time, the odds are good you haven’t heard of most of them. To help separate the wheat from the chaff, check out the Highly Rated on Rotten Tomatoes and Not on Netflix categories. There are some popular titles, including Jennifer Lawrence’s breakout movie, ‘Winter Bone’, the admired ‘The Usual Suspects’ and new horror classic ‘Paranormal Activity’.
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Where you can watch: Tubi TV’s directory/list of supported devices competes with that of Crackle. The service has apps for Android and iOS devices, major streaming devices, the major gaming consoles and some Samsung TVs. It doesn’t include the option to download movies for offline viewing.
Some months ago, Walmart’s Vudu video service discretely announced ‘Movies on Us’, which enables its users to choose from a substantial selection of movies (about 1,000 titles) to watch for free. This ad-supported option requires you to have a Vudu account, but it’s free to set up one.
Vudu gives users a selection of movies that don’t cost a penny, as long as you’re willing to watch a few adverts.
What you can watch: It’s difficult to get over excited about Vudu’s selections, which comprises of mostly older and direct-to-video-calibre titles, but there are a few gems in the mix, the original ‘Magnificent Seven’, ‘Moonstruck’ and ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’, for example.
Where you can watch: Vudu is available almost everywhere, all major streaming devices, mobile devices, gaming consoles and so on. While the mobile apps allow you to download paid movies for offline viewing, however, you can only stream ‘Movies on Us’.
Although Yahoo’s streaming service concentrates mostly on TV shows, it also has a movie section. You don’t need a Yahoo account to access it.
Yahoo view has a wide range of movies to watch online.
What you can watch: Although Yahoo’s recent partnership with Hulu has produced a lot of great TV to watch with no subscription needed, you’ll find almost none of Hulu’s movies on the Yahoo streaming service. Little titles that Yahoo View have available are probably not going to appeal to most viewers. ‘Sharknado 3’, anybody?
Where you can watch: For the meantime, Yahoo’s movies appear to be web based. Although there are mobile Yahoo view apps, show only clips, no movies or TV shows. I was not able to find a list of supported devices.
You might think that Google’s video service is nothing but clips and more clips, but it also hosts some free full-length movies, mostly of the public-domain variety. Not to be confused with YouTube Red, the subscription service that includes some original movies.
Some classic movies can also be found on YouTube.
What you can watch: if there happens to be an old movie, old enough that the copyright of the movie has expired, and you’re interested in seeing it, you may be able to find it on YouTube. For anything even far from modern, however, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Where you can watch: It’s pointless to say, but anywhere that YouTube can be accessed which is almost everywhere, you can watch YouTube movies. In fact, if there’s something you have found on the Internet Archive that you would love to view on a big screen, try YouTube through your streaming box.
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