Can we even watch films for free? It’s well reported in the news lately that the cost of living crisis has affected the way we spend our money somewhat casually on streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime. Thousands upon thousands of people just can’t afford to make all those payments right now, and Netflix has just reported a drop-off of 1 million viewers in the last year.
One of the problems is that there is too much choice, but that also means there’s a LOT of choice, so we’ve rooted around to find the best FREE streaming services where you can watch free movies, usually extremely simply or with a free sign-up. So here we go.
We’ll start with the obvious one:
While YouTube does contain a lot of free films, legally they’re only supposed to show ones that are out of the public domain, and there is a huge list of these, with multiple places to legally get them.
Obviously though, people do disregard copyright and upload films – or more likely clips from films, or films in chapters – to the channel, so if you can find them and you don’t mind watching them (this isn’t illegal in itself: it’s the uploader who’s liable) this is a good way to go. It may also give you a ton of ideas as to what movies are out there: you may find something unexpected.
the main British channels that let you watch films for free:
Channel 4 is available on Freeview and on-demand via the All4 service, which is free and requires quick registration so that you can watch it on phones, tablets, computers or TV. There are adverts but we’re all used to them, aren’t we?
All 4’s film collection may contain films that are a few years old at least, but how better to catch up on those films you missed amid all the hype? All 4 has classics old and new.
Like Channel 4, C5 is one Freeview and has its own app, this time called My5, which again is advert-supported and free and requires registration.
A large number of free movies on C5 come from Pluto TV Movies, and there are a staggering 11 channels solely devoted to movies. Now, most of them are obscure titles among the more recognisable ones but leafing through the options may find you intrigued to watch movies that are a little off the beaten track.
A bit more ‘out there’…
Similarly to C5, this excellent oldies site has reams of TV and film titles: comedies, dramas, war, westerns, some exclusive titles you can’t have seen anywhere else.
And with a great selection of sci-fi and monster movies, you’ll get to see some kitsch classics without having to go back in time to a 50s drive-in.
THE INTERNET ARCHIVE
A free digital library: not just movies but also digital books, games and old websites.
Again, these are mostly old or obscure titles which can be a benefit for movie fans because you can bet you’ll never find them on the mainstream streamers: Sci-Fi, Horror, Comedy, Film Noir, you name it.
Let’s move out of the obscure and into the better-known…
This channel is owned by Amazon so it has a lot of famous films like Zero Dark Thirty, Chicago, American Beauty, A Streetcat Named Bob… and it’s free to watch as a Prime Video Channel or as a standalone Amazon Fire TV plugin.
Again, it’s free because you don’t need to be on Prime, which is what Amazon charges for.
Plex has both an on-demand Movies & TV section and a Live TV section.
The movies are quite niche and there are a lot of US titles, but probably not so many UK titles you’ll be familiar with. The Live TV section has various channels and some of these show movies, again on the obscure side.
Filmzie boasts films, TV shows and adverts and the unique selling point of indie films from lesser-known filmmakers, who will benefit when you watch something they created, usually outside of the film industry system.
They also offer many apps to make it e mobile phones, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung TVs and more.
If you love a bargain, don’t forget we have our EntertainmentMagpie blog. Where we bring you the best deals on theatre, film and going out every single month. Because who doesn’t love a bargain really?