2013 Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies in Austin


SLACKER 20th Anniversary

Updated 6/6 to add Austin School of Film's Summer Film Series

With the Texas temperature slowly rising and the lack of UT students drawing nearer, Austin residents are rejoicing -- summer is upon us. And although the first day of the season is not technically until June 21, many organizations are already kicking off their summer activities.

Slackerwood is happy to bring you its fifth annual guide to free or cheap summer movies in Austin, as well as surrounding areas such as Cedar Park and Round Rock. Be sure to check out the websites for each of these series so you come prepared. Some of the movies are shown outside, so a nice blanket or lawn chair would be wise to bring, particularly for non-theater venues such as the French Legation or Republic Square Park.

While a number of free movie series are aimed at kids out of school, several are more adult-friendly, with the return of showcases such as Cinema East and The Paramount Summer Classic Film Series (though most of the films in the Summer Series are pretty tame for kids as well).

We will be on the hunt for new free movie opportunities this year, so if you know of any (or if you don't see a specific one here) please let us know in the comments. This page will also be updated as we receive updates on specific events. Happy watching!

Austin Film Society's Summer Free For All
Location: The Marchesa Theatre
Cost: Free
Dates: May 31 - June 23
Details: AFS is bringing Austin audiences a few free 35mm print screenings. The films will be shown at AFS's newest venue (The Marchesa Theatre), and each film will be screened twice over the weekend that it is scheduled. The series kicks off with Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask), and continues with Cleopatra (1934), A Hero Never Dies and Claire Denis' Beau Travail. Although tickets are free, secure your spot in advance on the AFS website before the screenings sell out! I just saw the Before triology that AFS hosted there and was blown away by how great this venue is; definitely worth checking out at some point this summer.

101X Summer Cinema Series
Location: Central Park by Central Market
Cost: Free
Dates: June 12 - August 7
Details: This annual outdoor series is also known as Central Market Movies in the Park. The lineup this year is sure to entertain with its high-school theme, particularly the June 12 kickoff of 1998's Can't Hardly Wait. Summer Cinema will feature $2.50 Blue Moon specials for guests 21 and older, as well as some food selections from Central Market. Don't forget to bring a lawn chair or blanket, and get there before dark as the movies will begin at sundown.

Alamo Kids Camp
Location: Alamo Lake Creek, Village, Slaughter Lane
Cost: Free
Dates: June 7 - August
Details: The Alamo Drafthouse is once again bringing back its annual Alamo Kids Camp, featuring free weekday morning screenings for the kiddos. Movies start at 10 am -- tickets are available in the lobby before the movies and are first-come, first-served (and they do fill up quickly). The June movies include Casper, Speed Racer and The Muppets Take Manhattan. Other summer selections: The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Nancy Drew, Madagascar, Monsters vs. Aliens ... and Austin film Spy Kids.

Movies in the Park
Location: Republic Square Park
Cost: Free
Dates: June 6 - November 7
Details: The Austin Parks Foundation is bringing back its Movies in the Park series, featuring free screenings of films presented by the Alamo Drafthouse. The theme for this years series is "Heroes and Heroines," celebrating everyone in Austin who does their part to keep our local and national parks thriving. June 6's screening will be Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and the rest of the summer will bring us classics such as A League of Their Own, Rocky and Ghostbusters. Dogs, picnics and lawn chairs are welcome, but remember that alcoholic beverages, glass and styrofoam are not permitted in the park. All films start at 8:30 pm.

Austin Sound & Cinema
Location: The lawn at The Long Center
Cost: Free
Dates: June 5 - August 21 (alternating Wednesdays)
Details: Do512 and Alamo Drafthouse have teamed up for free evening outdoor movies and live music -- local bands performing "tributes" to the music in the films you're about to see. The series kicks off on Wednesday, June 5 with Labyrinth and the David Bowie tribute band Super Creeps. Other movies include Smokey and the Bandit, Back to the Future, School of Rock, Flash Gordon and Jurassic Park. Food trailers will be set up on the Long Center's City Terrace and the Long Center will sell beverages.

Austin Public Library
Location: Most APL locations (check specific branch calendars for details)
Cost: Free
Dates: June 1 - October 26
Details: This summer, Austin Public Library continues its free screenings of films for the whole family. There are a few different categories to choose from, with each film starting at various times (some are matinees and some are in the evenings). Check the APL website for specific details and updates, especially since each branch has a calendar of events that features films throughout the summer. Some branches post their movie info in the library itself, so you might have to check there. Here are a few that caught my attention:

  • Family Matinees -- June 1 brings Chimpanzee and Batman Begins to the Windsor Park and University Hills branches. The following Saturdays will bring the rest of the latest two Batman films, as well as some tamer films for the younger ones (such as Rise of the Guardians and Frankenweenie).
  • Summer Action -- This portion of the free series kicks off on July 6 with the 2012 remake of Red Dawn at the University Hills branch. The rest of the films will prove to be equally entertaining, as the 2012 remake of Total Recall and Real Steel will follow.
  • Community Cinema -- The films in this series will explore certain topics that are prevelant in current affairs. The next screening is Love Free or Die on June 4 at the Windsor Park branch. The film explores the tension between the Episcopal church and the first openly gay Bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Round Rock Friday Film Series at the Library
Location: Round Rock Public Library, Room C
Cost: Free
Dates: Friday, June 7, then every Friday until August
Details: The Round Rock Public Library is giving readers a chance to wind down after a long workweek with free weekly screenings of family-friendly films. The screenings are at 2 pm and viewers can bring snacks, blankets and pillows to get comfy. Although the library is not listing the exact titles of what will be screened, they give some pretty interesting clues as to what films will be shown. Most of the films have a connection to their Summer Reading Program, whose theme this year is "Dig Into Reading."

Round Rock Movies in the Park
Old Settlers Park
Cost: Free
Dates: Friday, June 14 - Friday, August 2
Details: The city of Round Rock brings you its 2013 Movies in the Park series, full of family-friendly films and activities. Refreshments are available for purchase from HomeField Grill, and there will be pre-movie activities for the kids starting at 7:30 pm. The films begin at dark, and be sure to bring some blankets and chairs. The first screening kicks off with The Sandlot, and will take place at the Lakeview Pavillion in Old Settlers Park.

Summer Movie Night at Top Notch 
Top Notch Hamburgers
Free, but donations are being accepted for the people of West, Texas
June 7 - August 23
Top Notch is once again bringing back its Summer Movie Series.  Movies start at 8:00pm sharp every Friday night, but come early for some great burgers and live music before the show.  Coming early also means getting a good parking spot, as the set-up will be similar to a drive-in.  Most films are family-friendly, though there are a few in the series that might require some parental guidance.  The line-up is spot on though, featuring films like Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Troop Beverly Hills, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Goonies and many more.  You can check out their Facebook page for more information.

Austin Film Festival Film Series
Locations: Texas Spirit Theater at the Bob Bullock Texas State History and Alamo Drafthouse Village
Cost: Varies from free to $5 (see details)
Dates: June - August
Details: Austin Film Festival hosts several film series throughout the year as well as during the summer, including audience award winners and family favorites. Some screenings are accompanied with a guest artist or filmmaker. AFF also occasionally offers its members tickets to free preview screenings. This summer's film series include:

  • Made in Texas Family Film Series -- Continues on Saturday, June 1 at 3 pm with a free screening of The Rookie with director John Lee Hancock in attendance. Starting in July, the Bullock's First Saturday admission program will be changed to First Sunday. (This means that there will be free admission the first Sunday of every month from 2 - 6pm, so mark your calendars!) The July 7 selection is Louis Sachar's Holes, followed by Secondhand Lions on August 4 with writer/director Tim McCanlies in attendance. All screenings take place at 3:00pm at the Texas Spirit Theatre unless otherwise noted. 
  • Made in Texas Film Series -- This program of movies by Texas-based filmmakers or filmed in Texas is co-sponsored by the Texas Film Commission. Screenings are held in the Texas Spirit Theater at 7:30 pm on the second Wednesday of each month from April through September. Tickets are $5 for the general public and free for AFF members and Texas State History Museum (TSHM) patrons. Coming this summer is Resurrection: The JR Richard Story on June 12, Holy Hell on July 10; and An Evening of Texas Shorts on August 14.

Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse
Cinemark Tinseltown 17
Cost: $1 per show or 10 shows for $5 (purchased in advance)
Dates: June 11 - August 14
Details: This summer program offers up both classic kids movies and sequels, with a different film screened twice each week. Films start at 10:00am, and this year include Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Horton Hears a Who, Dolphin Tale, Happy Feet, Oceans, and several other family films to choose from. All films are rated G or PG.

Regal Summer Movie Express
Location: Regal Arbor at Great Hills, Regal Westgate
Cost: $1
Dates: Every Tuesday and Wednesday beginning Tuesday, June 11 through Wednesday, August 7
Details: During this 9-week festival, select Regal Cinemas in Austin are offering a variety of family-friendly movies on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10:00am. A portion of the proceeds collected from the Summer Movie Express will be donated to the Will Rogers Institute. Films this year include African Cats, Yogi Bear, Parental Guidance and Coraline.

Cinema East audience membersSplash Movies at Deep Eddy
Location: Deep Eddy Pool
Cost: Infants under 12 months = Free; Children 1-11 = $1; Juniors 12-17 = $2; Adults 18-61 = $3; Seniors 62+ = $1
Dates: Saturday nights from July 6- August 3
Details: Cool off as you watch movies after dark in Deep Eddy Pool. The series kicks off with Grease on July 6 and also includes The Hunger Games, Wreck-It Ralph, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Avengers.

Cinema East
Location: French Legation Museum
Cost: $2-$5 (the website says to pay what you can)
Dates: Every other Sunday, June 9 - August 18
Details: Cinema East returns again this summer for some laid-back viewings of films you might have missed on the festival circuit. Returning again to the historically beautiful French Legation, the events start at 8 pm and will feature some great music from DJ sets prior to show time. Beer and wine will be sold on site this year, and guests are welcome to bring their own snacks, blankets and chairs (can also BYOB). Dogs are allowed but must be well behaved and, as always, the after parties will take place at Cheer Up Charlie's on East 6th. Lineup includes Cutie and the Boxer, A Teacher, Zero Charisma and Bluebird.

Austin School of Film's "Pesadillas Calidas" Summer Film Series
Location: Austin School of Film
Cost: Free
Dates: June 8 - August 24 
Details: ASoF is bringing you a rather unique film series this summer.  Entitled "Pesadillas Calidas, Horror Films From Mexico", the films are all B-horror movies made in Mexico from (circa) the 1950s - 1980s.  The films will give audiences the chance to not only see a different kind of horror film, but horror films that have rarely been seen on this side of the border.  Films start at 9:00pm every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month, and beverages (alcohol included) will be sold throughout the evening.

Paramount 2013 Summer Classic Film Series
Paramount Theatre and Stateside at the Paramount
Cost: $8 - $10 (Film Fan discounted to $6 or buy Flix-Tix discounted to $5)
Dates: Every week throughout the summer (check schedule for specifics)
Details: This is perhaps my favorite series of the summer, particularly if you are a fan of classic cinema. I'm sure I'll need to camp out in front of the Paramount Theatre weekly. You can check out the Slackerwood contributors' picks from the lineup if you're needing some recommendations.

Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In
Location: Austin Studios (behind the National Guard building)
Cost: $25-30 depending on vehicle size; an additional $5-25 for speaker and concession packages (pedestrian prices also available; bring lawn chairs or a blanket)
Dates: Year-round
Details: Blue Starlite shows a variety of movies in a brand-new central location at Austin Studios. The lineup is great for anyone looking for some good ol' 80s/90s flicks. Their May line-up includes a Jurassic Park/Jaws double feature, Benny & Joon, and Clueless. June gives us There's Something About Mary, a Neverending Story/The Blob double feature, and many more. Buying online lets you pick your car slot (large or small vehicle), movie tickets and concession add-ons.

[Photo credits: Rolling Roadshow presentation of Slacker for its 20th anniversary (photo courtesy of Austin Film Society); audience members at the French Legation for Cinema East (photo by Jon Shapley). Both photos used with permission.]

Top Notch

Top Notch on Burnet is also doing movie nights.

Re: Top Notch

Thanks! I went ahead and added it in.