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.
SEE ALSO: Netflix has the most, best movies out of all the streaming services
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? Here are 12 ways to watch films for free online:
BEST FOR ORIGINALS
30-day free trial • Big selection • Original movies
Good movies leave all the time
The Bottom Line
Netflix is the largest streaming service out there and the company's vast library of new, classic, and original movies show why they are the gold standard in streaming.
You can cram a lot of movies into that 30-day free trial if you do it right.
Free trial: 30 days
Basic: $8.99/a month
Standard: $12.99/a month
Premium: $15.99/a month
$0 from Netflix (30 days)
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.
BEST FOR DOCUMENTARIES
Selection of new movies is amazing • Great documentary picks • Inexpensive
Older and classic movie selection is lacking • Not a lot of good original movies
The Bottom Line
While Hulu is mostly known for TV, the streaming service has surprisingly good picks when it comes to new movies.
Not just for TV anymore, there's a surprisingly good selection of new movies.
Free trial: 7 days
With ads: $7.99/a month
Without ads: $11.99/a month
$0 from Hulu (7 days)
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.
BEST FOR MORE THAN JUST MOVIES
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30-day free trial • Comes with two-day free shipping • Library of new releases • Award-winning original movies
Interface and menus aren't easy to navigate • Clumsy mobile app
The Bottom Line
While Netflix is considered the king of streaming, Amazon Prime Video is making a big play for the crown.
3. Amazon Prime
Amazon Studios has produced more award nominated movies than Netflix.
Free trial: 30 days
Prime membership: $119 for 12 months
$0 from Amazon (30 days)
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.
BEST FOR FREE MOVIES
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100% free • Good selection of movies and TV shows from Sony • Watch anywhere
Must watch ads • Poor video quality
The Bottom Line
If you're looking for a free video streaming option, then Crackle is a service to consider. It features a wide selection of older and classic movies, but users must watch ads during the film.
A totally free video streaming service. The catch? You'll have to watch ads.
Membership: Free with ads
$0 from Crackle
Crackle is a free video streaming service from Sony. Yes, you read that correctly. You can watch everything on Crackle for free. However, you have to watch ads every 20 minutes or so during movies.
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.
BEST FOR INDIE AND FOREIGN FILMS
Free with a valid library card • Criterion Collection • Works on every streaming device
Not every library in the country is covered • Only 10 video streams a month
The Bottom Line
For the price of a library card (which is nothing), you can stream the most influential movies in cinema history.
All you need is a library card and you'll get streaming access to 10 movies per month.
Membership: Free with valid library card
$0 from Kanopy
Do you like free movies? Do you like arthouse films? Do you have a 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.