13 ways to watch movies online for free — legally, of course
Hate paying for movies? Use these clever hacks, tips, and tricks to watch movies for free on some of your favorite streaming services. Best for originals You can cram a lot of movies into that 30-day free trial if you do it right. Best for...
In the modern age of the internet, there are ways to watch movies for free that are completely legal. Yes, you read that correctly. There's no need to visit any shady sites or jump around YouTube in order to watch free movies.
Free (and legal) movies are waiting for you only a few clicks away, and there's a pretty easy hack to get you there. It all hinges on one crucial step: Get creative with utilizing free trials, and you'll have hundreds of free movies right at your fingertips.
Almost every movie streaming service offers new subscribers a free trial period to "try before you buy." Taking a test run on a streaming service is the best way to know if it's a good fit for you and your individual movie tastes. Of course, eventually you'll run out of free trials, but the idea is to use these free trials to shop around so you can find the streaming service that you truly love — and don't mind paying for.
Still curious? Read on for 13 ways to watch films for free online — and remember to hit the grey arrow to expand each card and read more.
1. NetflixYou can cram a lot of movies into that 30-day free trial if you do it right.
- Free trial: 30 days
- Basic: $8.99 per month
- Standard: $12.99 per month
- Premium: $15.99 per month
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (5/1), Back to the Future (5/1), Back to the Future Part II (5/1), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (5/1), District 9 (5/15), Fun with Dick & Jane (5/1), Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (5/1), Public Enemies (5/16), Sinister (5/1), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (5/1), The Lincoln Lawyer (5/27), The Patriot (5/1), Uncut Gems (5/25), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (5/1), Dead to Me: Season 2 (5/8), Grey's Anatomy: Season 16 (5/9), Riverdale: Season 4 (5/14), Space Force (5/29), Valeria (5/8). See all .
In a recent Google Survey about streaming habits, we polled 1,500 people to get a sense for which streaming service is most preferred and confirmed something we pretty much already knew: People love Netflix. (Netflix and chill is a meme for a reason.) According to the informal, and not-at-all-scientific poll, Netflix was the clear winner, with nearly 60% of people saying they choose content there over Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, and others.
This shouldn't be a surprise: When it comes to streaming movies, Netflix is the gold standard. It was one of the first online services to offer video streaming as an option during the mid-2000s.
Before 2007, Netflix was a DVD-in-the-mail service that depended on the internet and the US Postal Service. Now, Netflix is synonymous with video streaming and original movies and TV shows.
In fact, Netflix original movies are some of the best coming out of Hollywood today, attracting big name actors and directors alike. Films like Beasts with No Nation, All The Boys I Loved Before, Bright, Bird Box, and Velvet Buzzsaw are changing the way people watch films at home instead of at movie theaters. Simply put, apart from the rare occasion during Oscar season, you can only watch Netflix Original movies on Netflix.
Not to mention Netflix's extensive library of modern and classic movies from various films studios like Paramount, Warner Bros., Universal Studios, and even Disney. Whatever your taste or mood, it seems that Netflix has a movie waiting for you to stream.
Netflix is "growing like crazy," with more than 145 million subscribers from all around the world. If you want to watch the latest and greatest films on the internet, then Netflix has to be your first option.
If you want to watch films for free, simply start a free trial and cancel it before it expires. Netflix offers new subscribers 30 days of video streaming for free. If you like Netflix and want to stay, subscriptions start at $8.99 for a basic plan.
2. Disney+Since Disney pulled its movies and shows from other streaming platforms, Disney+ is the absolute best place to find everything Disney.
- Free trial: 7 days
- Monthly: $6.99 per month
- Annual: $69.99 per year
Disneyland Goes to the World's Fair (5/22), Fantastic Mr. Fox (5/22), George of the Jungle (5/1), Hello, Dolly! (5/22), John Carter (5/2), Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (5/15), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (5/1), Awesome Animals: Season 1 (5/1), Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian (5/2), Marvel's Future Adventures: Season 2 (5/22). See all here.
Disney+ is the streaming site for both diehard and casual Disney fans alike. It's loaded with old animated and live-action movies from the vault, nostalgia-inducing TV shows, Disney Channel Original Movies, and more. Plus it also hosts all the Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic content you could want.
This platform is great for watching the DCOMs you can't find anywhere else, like Halloweentown, Luck of the Irish, and Smart House. You can also watch classics like The Little Mermaid or newer movies like Avengers Endgame. You'll also find new, original content. This is seriously a movie haven.
Since Disney pulled its movies and shows from other streaming platforms, Disney+ is the absolute best place to find everything Disney.
While the service is not free, it does offer a seven-day free trial. After that, prices are $6.99 per month or $69.99 for a year. Which, if we're being honest, is not a bad deal for those of us not looking to spend a lot of money.
3. HuluNot just for TV anymore, there's a surprisingly good selection of new movies.
- Free trial: 7 days
- With ads: $7.99 per month
- Without ads: $11.99 per month
Batman Begins (5/1), Demolition Man (5/1), Escape from Alcatraz (5/1), GoodFellas (5/1), I Still Believe (5/26), Like Crazy (5/19), Megamind (5/1), Monster House (5/1), Rocketman (5/22), Spaceship Earth (5/8), The Conjuring (5/1), The Dark Knight (5/1), The Graduate (5/1), The Green Mile (5/1), The Patriot (5/1), Ramy: Season 2 (5/29), Solar Opposites (5/8), Vikings: Season 6A (5/5). See all .
Although most people use Hulu to catch up on their favorite TV shows, the streaming service is making a push to get the attention of movie lovers too. Hulu has a lot of new movies available to watch that aren't available on Netflix or any other streaming competitor. (Take a peek at the latest news about Hulu, including a list of everything that's coming to the streaming platform on any given month, right here.)
In fact, more and more movie studios are opting to put their movies on Hulu first because they have control over the joint-venture streaming service. Warner Bros., Universal, 20th Century Fox, and Disney have some controlling stock with Hulu, so you're going to see movies like Annihilation, RBG, and I, Tonya before you see them anywhere else.
Since major movie studios own it, they're pulling their movies from other services like Netflix and putting them on Hulu to drive more people to subscribe. However, Hulu is also investing in new original movies and documentaries on their platform with films like Minding The Gap and Fyre Fraud.
Hulu offers a seven-day free trial for new subscribers, so if you're interested in watching documentaries and new movies, be sure to check out Hulu.
4. Amazon Prime VideoAmazon Studios has produced more award nominated movies than Netflix.
- Free trial: 30 days
- Prime membership: $119 for 12 months
Escape From Alcatraz (5/1), Inferno (5/1), Jack And Jill (5/10), Like Crazy (5/19), Rocketman (5/22), The Goldfinch (5/8), Walking Tall (5/1), Alias: Seasons 1-5 (5/11), Boss: Season 1 (STARZ)*. See all .
While Netflix is considered the gold standard in video streaming, Amazon Prime Video is making a play for the crown. Amazon announced their own on-demand video streaming service before Netflix, but appears to be catching up in terms of the amount of original movies and TV shows.
However, the original movies it does have are considered more upscale and high quality. Amazon Studios has produced more award nominated movies than Netflix with an eye towards more sophisticated movie watchers. Films like You Were Never Really Here, Last Flag Flying, and Cold War cater to the arthouse crowd, while movies like The Big Sick and Manchester By The Sea appeal to general audiences.
Not to mention Amazon Prime Video's vast library of new releases like Robin Hood, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Widows are on-demand to rent or buy. You really can't say the same thing about Netflix and Hulu when it comes to renting or buying new releases.
On top of that, a subscription to Amazon Prime Video also features two-day free shipping on thousands of products, Whole Foods benefits, and access to Amazon Prime Music and free books and magazines via Kindle.
Amazon Prime Video has a 30-day free trial available for new subscribers, if you want to watch movies for free. After your trial is over, a membership runs $119 per year, or about $9.91 per month.
5. HBO NowWe dare you to watch every single "Game of Thrones" episode during the 7-day free trial.
- Free trial: 7 days
- Membership: $14.99 per month
BlacKkKlansman (5/1), Cast Away (5/1), Contagion (5/1), Crazy Rich Asians (5/1), Downton Abbey (5/9), Friday Night Lights (5/1), In Bruges (5/1), Jaws (5/1), Joker (5/16), La La Land (5/1), Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (5/1), Nocturnal Animals (5/1), Precious (5/1), Ready or Not (5/23), School of Rock (5/1), Signs (5/1), I Know This Much Is True (5/10). See all .
HBO is considered to be at the very top of premium cable TV because of its original movies and TV shows (hello Game of Thrones), after dark programming, and overall cost. During its over 40-year history, HBO was an additional cost to cable packages, so it catered to audiences who wanted mature themes and explicit imagery in their entertainment.
Now that we live in the streaming age, the cable network introduced HBO Now, the cordcutters solution to everything HBO has to offer. For $14.99 per month, you can stream just about everything HBO has produced over the last 40 years, including Sex and the City: The Movie, The Notorious Bettie Page, Grey Gardens, and more.
HBO Now also has a vast library of movies from Warner Bros. and other movie studios. In fact, WB owns HBO, so most of the current and older movies on the platform are from the movie studio, like Game Night, Tag, and Ocean's 8.
If you want to watch their catalog for free, you can sign up for a 7-day free trial and watch all you can before you have to cancel. If you choose to stay with the service, you'll be treated to some really great entertainment — including the entire Game of Thrones series.
6. CrackleA totally free video streaming service. The catch? You'll have to watch ads.
- Membership: Free with ads
While it might seem annoying to watch ads on a streaming service, Crackle is free and the ads give the company an opportunity to indirectly make some money from members. It also gives you the opportunity to go to the bathroom or make a sandwich without pressing pause on your remote control.
The streaming service has a lot of really good films to watch, even if you have to watch them with ads. However, the movies are a few years (and even decades) old, so you're not going to find the latest and greatest from Sony on Crackle. There are good ones in just about every movie genre though, including (but not limited to) horror, sci-fi, and drama.
Crackle's biggest selling point is its price — you really can't beat free. If you don't mind sitting through ads, then give Crackle a shot. It won't cost you a dime.
7. KanopyAll you need is a library card and you'll get streaming access to 10 movies per month.
- Membership: Free with valid library card
If you answered "yes" to all three questions, then Kanopy is the streaming service for you. Kanopy is one of the few ways to legally stream foreign and indie movies for free. And yes, it's trule, Kanopy is 100% free — if you have a current and valid library card.
After you link your library card, you can then stream up to 10 free movies on the platform every month. This includes documentaries, foreign movies and TV shows, and the Criterion Collection, which is the service's biggest selling point.
Although it doesn't feature every movie in the collection, it does have some of its most well-known and popular, like Breathless, The Seven Samurai, Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and more.
Kanopy offers a film school education for the price of a library card, which is free.
8. YouTubeWay more than just silly cat videos.
- Membership: Free with ads
The films are mostly older films spanning from the '80s to the early 2010s and from various genres like family, sci-fi, and comedy. While a majority of the movies were forgotten as soon as they were released in theaters, there are others that are popular and well-known, including All Dogs Go To Heaven, Get Shorty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and more.
YouTube isn't really putting these films front-and-center on their platform, opting to push YouTube TV instead. The movies are there though — look for the option on the left side menu for “Movies & Shows” under the “More From YouTube” category — and ready to stream on web browsers, if you're looking for a free way to watch movies online.
9. Showtime AnytimeShowtime Anytime unlocks just about everything found on Showtime.
- Free trial: 7 days
- Subscription: $10.99 per month
Showtime Anytime boasts a good selection of comedies on the platform, while they also feature quality dramas and documentaries that aren't available on any other streaming service.
The service also dabbles in adult-only movies, so if you want to watch after dark entertainment for free, Showtime Anytime is a good option with a 7-day free trial.
Showtime Anytime is also an add-on for Hulu and Amazon Prime.
10. StarzPlenty of options for the kids — then enough to keep you entertained once they're in bed.
- Free trial: 7 days
- Membership: $8.99 per month
However, once the children are asleep, the parents can enjoy dramas and comedies from major movie studios. While Starz lacks original movies, you can still get a lot from its vast library of new and classic films on the service.
You'll also find various sub-channels, such as Starz Cinema, Starz Comedy, Starz Edge, Starz Kids & Family, and more. In fact, there are a number of titles not available on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. Moreover, Starz is also an add-on for the latter two services.
You can start a 7-day trial to watch their catalog for free. Afterwards, you'll be charged $8.99 per month.
11. VUDURent, buy, or watch for free.
- Free movies: Yes with ads
- Membership: À la carte from $4.99 to $14.99
The movies aren't the newest of titles, but there are definitely some high quality feature films to browse, such as Batman Begins, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, The Cabin in the Woods, and more. If you don't mind watching ads every 20 minutes or so during a movie, you can get a lot out of VUDU's free library of films, TV shows, and animation.
The catalog mostly consist of movies from the 2000s and the 1990s, while there are a few titles from '80s sprinkled throughout. However, you're not going to get older movies from the '50s or '60s, or arthouse and foreign films. What you are going to get is a great selection of comedies, cult classics, and dramas.
The service is available on just about every online platform, including iOS, Android, Roku, and Chromecast, while it gives users the option to rent or buy new releases. There's no need to start a free trial because VUDU is free to sign up and create an account, which gives you access to the service's free movie library.
12. Roku ChannelAn easy way to get free movies if you already have a Roku device or account.
- Membership: Free with ads
The streaming device company recently started to offer free movies to their platform as a way to sweeten devices with an additional streaming service.
Ad-supported movies are free to watch, while the Roku Channel also offers free live TV for news and weather updates and premium content from Showtime, Starz, and more. You can actually subscribe to premium channel networks from the Roku Channel, so you can have one bill and one place for all your premium movies.
The movies that are available to watch for free on the Roku Channel are pretty good too. There's a wide selection of dramas and comedies like Paddington, Jackie, A League of Their Own, In Her Shoes, Up In The Air, and more.
The Roku Channel is free to watch and available in the Roku Channel Store. You can also watch the Roku Channel without a Roku Box or device, but you need a Roku account, which is free to sign up. The Roku Channel is also available online via web browser and can also be accessed via Samsung TVs running the Tizen operating system version 2.3, 2.4, 3.0, or 4.0.
13. MUBIThis is a curated streaming service that focuses on indie and foreign arthouse films.
- Free trial: 7 days
- Membership: $10.99 per month
If you're into arthouse and off-the-beaten-path films, then MUBI is a great option to watch the best movies and documentaries from all around the world. The service is available for almost every platform out there, including Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, and more.
You should really consider MUBI as a good way to discover cinema with its great selection of hand-picked movies in nearly every genre. The streaming service is $10.99 per month, but MUBI offers a free 7-day trial period so you can get a better idea what the service has to offer.