12 Free, LEGAL Ways to Watch Movies Without Breaking the Law

free ways to watch movies

I love the excitement of the movies, the escapism, I even love the smell of that fake popcorn butter that is poured out of what appears to be a gallon jug of butter. Yes, the butter comes out of a gallon jug. (Never watch that part.)

But what I don’t love about the movies is the cost of a ticket. At a nationwide average of $8.38 per ticket, a spontaneous jaunt to the movies is out of my budgetary reach. Luckily, there’s a ton of legitimate resources out on the web to get my movie fix. And I don’t even have to put on pants to leave the house or break the law.

12 Free, Completely Legit Ways to Watch Movies Without Breaking the Law…

1. Can I Stream It 

Before you jump into the wide world of legitimate online movies, I’d like to suggest Can I Stream It. Can I Stream it is a free service that enables users to search across well-known streaming, rental and purchase services to check if a movie is available online. Can I Stream It searches sites such as Hulu and Redbox Instant, among others. So beware, not all movies will be free. Can I Stream It also has an email feature if the movie you are looking for isn’t available. When the movie becomes available, you’ll get an email and be on your merry, watching way.

2. Amazon Instant Video

Amazon Instant Video offers movie and television streaming on a variety of devices. The free movies on Amazon Instant are limited, but can be purchased individually for a (insert used car dealership voice) low, low price. If you’ve made the investment to be an Amazon Prime member, ($79 per year) you’ll have a lot more choices.

3. Hulu

If you haven’t heard of Hulu, you probably just crawled out from under a rock and please let me know if you need medical attention. Hulu works with major networks so you can stream TV and movies online for free. Unless you have a Hulu Plus account you will have to wait a week before the most recent episode will show up. Hulu plus will put you back $7.99 per month.

4. The Internet Archive – Moving Image Archive

The Moving Image Archive, an aspect of the Internet Archive, houses digital movies uploaded by Archive users. Most of the movies are older, but the choices contain a wide variety of classic full-length films, daily alternative news broadcasts, cartoons, concerts and so much more.

5. PBS

PBS constantly amazes me with it’s quality of programming and now you don’t even need a television to stream their content. Many PBS shows (including Downton Abbey!) are available to watch right through your computer for the low, low price of FREE! You can’t beat it.

6. Classic Cinema Online

If you’re more into classic cinema, this website is going to be right up your alley. Classic Cinema Online features classic movies like Bye Bye Birdie, That Darn Cat (one of my childhood favorites!) and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Pop some popcorn over the stove and let these classic movies take you back to a more wholesome time.

7. My Lifetime

Everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure network offers a limited amount of their movies online. A few of the classics include: Too Young to Marry, The Stranger I Married and Honeymoon with Mom. The titles pretty much speak for themselves.

8. Crackle

Crackle has such a selection of recent movies that it’s hard to believe it is legal. Crackle is owned by Sony and therefore has mostly Sony offerings. On Crackle you can find movies such as Big Daddy, Run Lola Run and Rachel Getting Married. Some content on Crackle does have time limit, so be aware the movie “expiration dates.”

9. YouTube Movies

YouTube, the king of online video clips, has a collection of seemingly random, free online movies uploaded legally. (My guess is that they are movies that have fallen out of copyright.) Admittedly, I haven’t heard of most of the movies featured on the site, although I did manage to find Shopgirl, Charlie Chaplin’s Pay Day and the cult classic, Plan 9 from Outerspace.

10. Popcorn Flix

Popcorn Flix is a movie-streaming service created with the indie-loving viewer in mind. The videos do feature ads, but the site streams recent indies such as Cake Lovers, Craigslist Joe and Meet Bill.

11. Indie Flix

Speaking of independent movies, Indie Flix is an addictive site chock full of full-length and short independent movies. Films range from the quirky to the heartwarming to the thought-provoking. But be careful, it’s easy to fall through the rabbit hole on this site and end up losing hours of your life.

12. Your Local Library

Your local library is amazing, I guarantee it. Most public libraries carry a selection of educational and popular DVDs. The library may even offer a free movie night. Just ask your local librarian for more details!

There are so many choices out there for free, legitimate movies, so get to watchin’! (And if you do decide to venture out to the movie theater before you go check out The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money at the Movies – 45 Tips!)


Do you know of any ways to watch movies for free that weren’t mentioned? If so, we’d love to hear about it!

By day, Melanie is a librarian. By night, she blogs about her DIY projects and living small in an Airstream trailer. You can read more about Melanie’s adventures on her blog, Love Library.


40 thoughts on “12 Free, LEGAL Ways to Watch Movies Without Breaking the Law

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  1. Noel

    LOVE LOVE LOVE! Thanks for the great post! My partner and I are constantly looking for free but legal movie options. For TV we find that the network websites give us our fix easy! ABC.com, NBC.com, CBS.com, ComedyCentral.com, and SouthParkStudios.com cover pretty much all our bases! Of course Downtown Abbey on PBS.com and the Hulu.com freebies are faves too :)

  2. robin

    Thank you!!! We don’t have cable or satellite, but do have Amazon Prime and use the library. This was very helpful in helping us find free entertainment, which is all our budget can afford. Thank you again!!

  3. Ruth Cooke

    If you need extra income and you really love movies, why not get a second job at a movie theatre? Free popcorn every shift (not that you’ll want much of it after about the second week), and a voucher for two admissions to a movie attached to every paycheque were part of my life for almost two years!

  4. Livia Davenport

    I’m not a mean person but these aren’t working out for me. Either they are restricted, or they are just not good. Sorry :/ I hope that it goes well

  5. Annika

    Thank you so much! This was extremely helpful. I also know that on websites like Fox.com and Abc.com you can stream tv shows for free. I’ve really enjoyed this while trying to catch up on my favorite shows!

  6. Janet Welch

    I tried ABC, CBS, and NBC,along with some of the more known channels and they all require that you have a n Account plus password to one of the Cable Companies or Satellite Companies, which I don’t, so I could not watch them. Maybe this is new since Jan. 2014.

  7. Linda Hernandez

    I am looking for legit movie sites…that u dont have to subscribe to or download anything…and for sure that is secure..wont bring viruses to my computer…does anyone know of any…im a real big movie fan..esp of horror and sci fi…and supernatural…i dont want any damage done to my computer…due to sites that have like malware and such..ok?? so if anyone know of legit..100% safe sites..let me know…im using hulu right now..but the movies are choppy and out of sync…

  8. Linda Hernandez

    Why cant there be legitimate..online sites for free movies…i mean absolutely free..not one that u click on a link and it takes u to another site where u have to pay…id love to watch these new ones that are out in the theaters..and on DVD…im on limited income and I love to watch movies…sci-fi…horror,…supernatural…love it..

  9. Linda Hernandez

    I love to watch movies…but havent been able to find free site..where i dont have to download this or that..i mean free…i used to have netflix or hulu..but they do cost… i love sci-fi moives and horror movies..anyone know of some good sites..legit sites…no viruses or malware

  10. The Truth

    LOL, It’s not ‘illegal’ to watch a streamed movie online. Even if you are just downloading movies the most your ISP can do is a cease and desist order and then blacklist you from service if you don’t stop. It’s the people actually uploading and sharing the movies they go after. I’ve been watching movies for years now on my normal IP and not a VPN and have never had any issues. It’s all scare tactics, and nothing can happen from you WATCHING a movie online. Just don’t be one of the guys uploading the shit and you’re good. There’s only one site I trust and I’m not one of the idiots who is going to just blab it’s name so it can get harassed and shut down, but there are plenty of sites to watch free movies, some better than others you just have to sift through the garbage to find the gems.

  11. Sylvia

    Thank you! While I have both Netflix and Amazon Prime, sometimes I am in the mood for something neither has on offer, but I am unwilling to risk legal repercussions (or possible virus/trojans) by visiting the shadier sites. Yay for options!

  12. Denis

    I don’t have the slightest idea why you didn’t include http://putlockers.zone/ in this list. As for me it’s the most convenient site for watching. Friendly interface and the opportunity to watch for free and without registration works pretty well for me. And there is also a huge base of movies there.

  13. John Smith

    Amazing! found this list very helpful and full of knowledge. I am very fond of watching new movies and have lot of interest in films. Thank you so much to you for this outstanding information.

  14. Nancy

    PBS wants you to sign up for a service and give them a lot of personal information, such as all of your banking information, in order to stream their videos plus make a monthly contribution. I will no longer be using it because I avoid doing these things. It’s presumptuous. I have always loved being able to PBS to watch their programming but I am not going to jeopardize my privacy to do so now.


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