2009 Guide to Free Summer Movies in Austin


 Grindhouse double-feature

Check out our updated 2011 Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies.

While Terror Tuesday and Weird Wednesday are no longer free events, if you're still looking for free movies, you have plenty of options around town this summer. Recently, Jette briefly mentioned the Reel Independents series this summer at Austin Public Library. APL has two additional summer series at different libraries, so there's no excuse to miss these movies.

Reel Independents
Three films from around the world are screening in this series, including The Pope's Toilet, which played at Cine Las Americas last month. Also playing are The Trap and In Love We Trust. Reel Independents plays at the St. John and Ruiz branches of APL, monthly on Wednesdays, through July 15.

Audrey at APLPostcards from Audrey
The Hampton Branch of APL, in Oak Hill, will show three Audrey Hepburn films this summer: Roman Holiday, Sabrina, and Breakfast at Tiffany's. If you haven't seen them, check out these classic films. If you have seen them, why not watch them with other cinephiles? After all, the price is right.

Selected Film Scores of Goran Bregovic
This series of films is playing every few days in the first half of June, at four different branches of APL. The City of Austin website notes that these films are a prelude to Bregovic's performance at Bass Concert Hall on June 17. What better way to familiarize yourself with his work? The film series includes La Reine Margot, which won five Cesar Awards and an Academy Award nomination for costume design. Other films include Time of the Gypsies, Caruga, Arizona Dream, and Underground.

We Heart Totoro
This series celebrating the animated films of Hayao Miyazaki has been playing alternate Saturdays at the Howson Branch since February, Unfortunately, the May 16 screening of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind will be the last in the series, due to renovations at that library. One of the most popular directors of animated films, Miyazaki directed Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle, and Grave of the Fireflies, which were all scheduled in this series. Perhaps if attendance is strong enough on Saturday, the series will continue at another branch, or when Howson reopens after the renovations.

Nueva Onda, South Austin by Elliott NgNueva Onda Movie Nights
The monthly movie nights at local restaurant Nueva Onda are also free. Their next program, scheduled for Thursday, May 14, includes Kid, a SXSW film selection and UT Hollywood showcase; Capirotada, which was part of East Austin Stories; and Remains, from Austinite and award-winning Columbia film student Allison Cook.

Last month's screening featured the short Danzak, which won an award at Cine Las Americas a couple of weeks ago. Director Gabriela Yepes earned an MFA in Film and Video Production from UT Austin. Nueva Onda Movie Nights also has door prizes, so check out all the details at their website.

Movies at Central Market (N. Lamar)
The movies in this outdoor film series don't quite fall under the "family-friendly" banner below, although I don't think they've ever shown anything too graphic or violent. Central Market, Rolling Roadshow and radio station 101X team up to show four films during the summer -- you can vote for the films you want to see. The series kicks off on Wednesday, June 10 with Raiders of the Lost Ark at 8:30 pm.

Free Family-Friendly Film Series
Other free film events include child- and family-oriented films at local theaters and outdoors in local parks. The theaters are showing relatively recent titles. There is overlap between all the theater-based summer series, so you might want to check to see when and where the films are playing.

The Regal Free Family Film Festival series plays at three Regal multiplexes around town this summer (Arbor, Westgate, and Lakeline), with a variety of G and PG films on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 am. The festival page includes all participating theaters in Texas, but it's grouped by city so it's not too hard to navigate. I know that in previous years, Regal Westgate screenings were popular with the day-care crowd, so if you or your kids really want to see one of the films, get there a little early.

Not to be outdone, the Alamo has a Summer Movie Kids' Camp series at both the South Lamar and Village theaters starting in June. The movies play Monday-Thursday at 11 am, with a different movie every week throughout the summer. Like the Regal series, it's first-come first-served, and since it has a full menu, you can have lunch (mac and cheese!) and a movie all at once. Titles scheduled so far include Iron Giant and the beloved kid-geek film, The Goonies, so don't be surprised if some screenings are overrun by overgrown kids.

In addition, Alamo South still hosts the free Alamo Kids Club every month at noon on the last Saturday of the month. On May 30, you can see Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and June's film is Explorers.

Other national chains have summer film series oriented to families and children, which aren't free but are pretty cheap. At Cinemark Tinseltown's Summer Movie Club House, tickets are $1, or 10 for $5 if purchased in advance. AMC Barton Creek has a Summer Movie Camp with $1 admission as well, and proceeds are donated to the Will Rogers Institute and Variety – The Children's Charity.

Lastly, two free outdoor-movie series take place this summer at local municipal parks: Round Rock Movies in Your Park and Kyle Movies in the Park. Austin Parks Foundation's Movies in the Park at Republic Square doesn't start until September this year. As of publication, there are no scheduled Splash Party Movie Nights at Deep Eddy Pool.

Let us know if there are any other free movie series this summer that we're missing, and we'll update this page.

[Photo credit: "Nueva Onda, South Austin" by Elliot Ng. Found on Flickr and used under Creative Commons license.]

The leader photo

So, no Alamo movies at Central Market this year?

Thanks for the reminder; I'd

Thanks for the reminder; I'd completely forgotten about that series. I'm sure there's a few more that we're forgetting.

now that you mention it

I was going to say that I didn't see any listed when I poked around the Alamo site, but I just found the info. So we will update this entry -- thanks for the reminder!