Free & Cheap Indoor Movies for NYC Kids 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.

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 Cinemas 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.
June 30-August 26: Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am
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 benefit the Will Rogers Institute. The lineup varies by theater but includes:
The Nut Job
Earth to Echo
Rio 2
How To Train Your Dragon 2
Mr. Peabody and Sherman
Book of Life
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Penguins of Madagascar
Madagascar 3
Dolphin Tale 2
Muppets, Most Wanted
Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
The Lego Movie
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Sony Wonder Technology Lab
550 Madison Avenue near 56th Street
Schedule varies. Visit the website for the complete schedule
The 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 fee. Reservations are recommended and can be made two weeks before the showing by calling 212-833-8100 and pressing option 3. 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.

Museum of the Moving Image
35th Avenue at 36th Street
Schedule varies. Visit the website for the complete schedule
FREE with paid admission
The Museum of the Moving Image is a cool destination for movie buffs and pop-culture geeks alike. The on-site theater offers a rotating schedule of free movies all year long and many are accompanied by discussions or other interactive elements. My family had a blast when we attended a Muppet Movie sing-along.

If you're looking for Bow-Tie Cinemas Free Kids Summer Film Series be advised it's not returning to the city this summer—it had played in Chelsea in the past—though you can check out its other Tri-State Area locations. The Jewish Museum has also shown a summer movie series in past years, but isn't doing so this summer.

Keep in mind, though, you can catch brand-new films for just $7-$8.50 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.

Another great place to find free movies is your local library. Lots of branches show a variety of films for children and toddlers. Check the online calendars of the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library to see what's being shown.

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.

This post was originally published in June 2010.

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