How To Get Free Movies Online - Legally

Category: Video

A reader asks: 'Where can I get free movies online? I know about Netflix and Hulu, but their free trials expire after a month. And those websites offering free access to popular films seem rather sketchy to me. Is there a way to download free movies without getting in trouble?'

Free Online Movies: Yes, But...

For some people, even $8 a month is too much to pay for Netflix, Hulu Plus, or another subscription streaming video service. There are ways to get movies online for free, but you get what you pay for – and often less.

First, let me offer a word of caution. Steer clear of Web sites that promise to let you “watch any movie for free.” Simply put, they’re lying. Movie producers do not put their most valuable properties online for everyone to watch for free. If you use one of these sketchy services, you are dealing with criminals who have stolen the movies they’re offering.

If you lie down with dogs, you are going to get fleas. And those "fleas" can take various forms. Many “free movies” websites will require you to register your personal information, or install specialized software. You can expect to receive spam, become a victim of identity theft, and/or catch a malware infection. Malware may also be installed on your computer or tablet surreptitiously while you are watching a movie. That’s how “free” movie services make money.
Free Movies Online

It is unlikely that the MPAA will sue you for merely watching a pirated movie online. The movie industry goes after bigger game: the people who make pirated movies available for others to download. But that doesn’t mean a streamed movie is legal, and criminal activity always carries a risk of penalties. I have heard from people who've gotten "cease and desist" letters from their ISP after illegal downloads, warning them that they could lose their account if they continue. And in the music realm, there are well-known cases where ordinary people have been sued for tens of thousands of dollars as a result of their "file sharing" activities.

Free Movies - Popcorn Not Included

A handful of online services do offer free movies legally. But you get what you pay for, and you won’t get the latest blockbusters. Here are a few legitimate online movie sites for examples.

Crackle is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment. It offers several thousand Sony-owned movies and TV shows for streaming. In addition to streaming movies through its Web site, Crackle distributes them via YouTube, Hulu, AOL, MySpace, and mobile service providers. The biggest complaint that consumers have about Crackle is the brief commercials that inserted into every movie, apparently every 5 to 10 minutes.

Viewster is a Switzerland-based video-on-demand service. It offers free and pay-per-view movies from over 100 studios, including Warner Brothers. It also distributes indie movies, international TV shows, and short clips. Content is available through the Viewster site (registration required), on YouTube, and on Android devices.

OpenCulture is a collection of “the best free cultural & educational media on the Web.” Its movie collection includes public domain films and indie productions that are distributed with no strings attached. There are over 500 films available, including some classics such as George Orwell’s “1984,” Gary Cooper in “A Farewell to Arms,” “All Quiet On The Western Front,” and others.

Indie Movies Online was voted “Best Website to watch free movies” by users of If you’re a fan of low-budget, non-traditional films, this is the place for you. There are no ads, no distribution channels, just a straightforward website streaming movies for free, legally.

From the Internet to Your TV

In my opinion, the convenience of downloading a movie from the Internet to your TV screen via Roku, Boxee or Apple TV makes it well worth the couple of bucks you'll pay to watch legally. You can find many popular and current movies on Hulu, Netflix or Amazon Prime, and not worry about the potential downsides of illegal downloads. See my related articles to learn more about those services and how they work:

Yes, there are plenty of free movies online. They just might not be the ones you want to watch. But there is no legal way to download or stream the latest Hollywood hit movies to your computer, tablet or smartphone for free. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "How To Get Free Movies Online - Legally"

Posted by:

Louis Toscano
25 Oct 2012

If you don't mind subtitles, I have used when I am hard up to watch something

Posted by:

Maurice Lampl
25 Oct 2012

What about the DivX Crawler site??? I've been using it for about a year and their movies are pretty good...

Posted by:

Hejar Rodriguez
25 Oct 2012

The only one good link is OPEN CULTURE; not only free, but true culture in their contents.
Thank you for bringing us this amazing opportunities,BOB.

Posted by:

25 Oct 2012

Last year I wanted to check out "Portlandia" which I hadn't heard of before. Normally I am careful but this time I "downloaded" software at a site that promised free episodes, instead of watching the show I watched my computer freeze up with notices saying that I should buy this software to get rid of viruses. I took my laptop to a computer store, paid $100 to have them get rid of the malware. First time for everything.

Posted by:

Michael S
25 Oct 2012

I use AT&T U-verse. Got rid of cable and watch most of my favorite TV shows and some movies. The TV shows are a day later, but it's no big deal to me. Thanks Bob, will check out some of the others also.

Posted by:

25 Oct 2012

Thanks for this list, Bob! I already use Crackle (having grown up watching movies on tv, a few ads don't upset me too much), but will be trying the others for sure.

Posted by:

26 Oct 2012

Bad news if you happen to live in South East Asia as CRACKLE is not available and neither is INDIE Movies online. The latter looks like a really good website with some very interesting movies l was hoping to watch.

Posted by:

26 Oct 2012

To possibly watch CRACKLE, or access otherwise inaccessible sites, you may be able to use UltraSurf or UltraVPN (, though many sites block connections through ultrasurf.

Posted by:

Digital Artist
26 Oct 2012

Thank you, Bob. I pay for Netflix, and occasionally to Amazon for one not available on Netflix, but Open Culture and Indie Movies Online fill all the gaps. Mrs. Digital Artist's computer is connected to the garage-door-size flat screen, so we are ready to go!

Posted by:

Frank Klett
27 Oct 2012

Hi Bob, I am surprised you didn't mention Snag Films. Snag has a terrific assortment of documentary/Indie films from 30 minutes to 2 hours in length. No garbage just very well done films.
Its catalog is sorted by areas of interest and covers everything from science to musical interests.
Thanks for all your words of wisdom!

Posted by:

Jim Reicker
29 Oct 2012

check out Canada's National Film Board -- some feature films, lots of animation and documentaries (Canadian of course)and a free app.

Posted by:

j Spence
30 Oct 2012

Viewster requires FLASH on my Android!
NO way!!

Posted by:

j Spence
30 Oct 2012

Viewster requires FLASH on my Android!
NO way!!

Posted by:

30 Aug 2013 has a lot of good free, legal movies.

Posted by:

Abhishek Gupta
04 Jan 2014

I have been using viewster and its cool to watch free movies and tV shows online with viewster. But there is a problem in viewster about the larger screen, it say that it provides full resolution picture but doesnot have this service. Although, thanks for the post.

Posted by:

BK Doore
10 Jan 2015

There are many sites/solutions to watching TV without subscribing to cable TV. The best I have found is at: It's FREE and it is yours - forever. No subscription fees, membership fees. I get thousands of channels; sports, free music, streaming videos, movies still in theaters! I love it!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Looks like a rehash of the tired old "free satellite TV" scam. "we do NOT host any files or stream
anything at all we simply show people how to use free online programs".

Posted by:

26 Mar 2020

I use Allavsoft to download videos, movies, music files from various websites.
Simply copy and paste the video or music url to Allavsoft and click Download button.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- How To Get Free Movies Online - Legally (Posted: 25 Oct 2012)
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