Sit Back and Enjoy the Air-Conditioning: Free and Cheap Indoor Family Movies in NYC this Summer
We recently rounded up free outdoor film screenings for New York City families. But with temperatures stuck in the 80s and 90s, there are days when all you want to do is spend a few hours in a nice, dark, air-conditioned movie theater—you just don't want to shell out $30-plus to do it.
Happily you don't have to. Wonderful family flicks are playing at a theater near you, and the tickets are free (or inexpensive). Now all you have to do is dip into your 401K to pay for that popcorn.
Bow-Tie Cinemas Free Kids Summer Film Series
Chelsea Cinemas, 260 West 23rd Street near Eighth Avenue
Visit the website for a complete list of participating tri-state area locations.
July 10-August 22: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:30am
Although there is only one NYC location, many Bow-Tie Cinemas (formerly Clearview Cinemas) theaters are participating in New York and New Jersey. This year's lineup includes lots of recent family blockbusters. Seating is first-come, first-served, and tickets are given out the morning of each screening. The complete Chelsea Cinemas schedule is below but you can see each theater's schedule here.
July 10-11: The Lorax
July 17-18: Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
July 24-25: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
July 31-August 1: Escape from Planet Earth
August 8-9: Hotel Transylvania
August 14-15: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
August 21-22: The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Regal Cinemas Summer Movie Express
UA Sheepshead Bay Stadium 14 & IMAX, 3907 Shore Parkway near Knapp Street – Brooklyn
Regal Atlas Park Stadium 8, 80-28 Cooper Avenue near 80th Street – Queens
UA Kaufman Astoria Stadium 14 & RPX;, 35-30 38th Street between 35th and 36th Avenues – Queens
UA Staten Island Stadium 16 & RPX, 2474 Forest Avenue between Madison Street and Putnam Avenue – Staten Island
Visit the website to search for other participating tri-state area locations by zip code.
July 2-August 28: Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am
Like Bow-Tie Cinemas Free Kids Summer Film Series, Regal Cinemas' Summer Movie Express features big family hits from the past few years. Seating is first-come, first-served, and $1 tickets are sold the morning of each screening. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Will Rogers Institute. The lineup varies by theater but includes:
The Three Stooges
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
Mr. Poppers' Penguins
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Happy Feet Two
Hello, Gorgeous! The Films of Barbra Streisand
Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place at 1st Place
Wednesdays, June 26-August 7 at 6:30pm
Free with suggested donation
The museum celebrates the cinematic work of the multitalented Brooklyn native. While not all of the films are appropriate for kids (or anyone—did you see her version of A Star is Born?), screwball comedy What's Up Doc? (July 10) and musical Yentl (July 31) are good for families. Tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 4pm on the day of each screening.
Sony Wonder Technology Lab
550 Madison Avenue near 56th Street
Schedule varies. Visit the website for the complete schedule
The Sony Wonder Technology Lab is one of our favorite destinations year-round for high-tech interactive fun. The spot also regularly screens episodes of preschool favorites like Sesame Street, Dora, Diego and Yo Gabba Gabba!, as well as full-length features (all Sony, of course) in its high-definition theater. Sometimes there are hands-on workshops in conjunction with the screenings, which usually cost a small free. Reservations are recommended and can be made the Monday before the showing. The remaining tickets, if any, are given out 30 minutes prior to the screening. Tickets go fast since the theater only has about 70 seats, and all children must be accompanied by an adult.
Did you know that you can catch brand-new films for just $7-$8 at all NYC AMC Theatres before noon year-round? Even new releases! 3D and IMAX cost extra but are still discounted. Visit the website to search for tri-state area locations by zip code.
For additional inexpensive movie suggestions, check out our post about free and cheap indoor films.
Check out our Summer Fun Guide for additional seasonal fun.