Frugalista

Free and Cheap Family Summer Flicks

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There are two kinds of movie theater showings that cater to parents: the kind where you get to bring your baby and watch a grown-up movie, and the kind where you get to bring your unruly kids to watch a kid movie.

I vastly prefer the first, but sadly my days of hitting mommy matinees are long gone. Usually your baby has to be under 1 to get into those things.

But I might take my brood of two to a couple cheap kid matinees this summer, especially if it ever gets hot out and we're looking for sources of cheap air conditioning. (Assuming we've already worn out our welcome at Jewel -- remember on "Married With Children" when the Bundys bring their lawn chairs to the freezer section of the local grocery?)

Here are some of the free and cheap opportunities to take kids to movies this summer. To me, it's only cheap if you pay less than $2 a head (the program at Marcus Theaters is $2.50, but you get popcorn). After all, if you're there with a toddler or baby and might have to bolt halfway through the show, you don't want to feel like you've lost a major investment.

  • Chicago Park District's Movies in the Park series brings a whopping 170 flicks, some classic and some more recent, to neighborhoods all over the city at dusk. The ratings look to range from G to PG-13. Sadly, these can be hard to get to if your kids are normally asleep by 8 or 8:30. Check suburban park districts for similar programs; I know we've got some going in Oak Park.
  • Classic Cinemas' Wednesday Morning Movie Series will show nine G or PG films every week between June 17 and August 12. Admission is $1, and last year at my local Lake Theater in Oak Park they had a really cheap refreshment deal for the kids too. Other locations are in St. Charles, North Riverside, Naperville and other burbs.
  • Squidoo list includes links to free or cheap summer kids' movie programs at chains with Theaters with Chicago locations, including Kerasotes (all over the Chicago area), AMC (Lombard, Crestwood, South Barrington), Cinemark (Aurora, Melrose Park, Woodridge), Marcus Theaters (Addison, Chicago Heights, Gurnee, Orland Park, Elgin). 
  • This list of free flicks from Examiner.com includes more distant Chicagoland outposts such as Crystal Lake and Lake Zurich as well as a couple Chicago theaters.
  • Chicago's Outdoor Film Festival shows classic movies in Grant Park that are NOT necessarily kid-friendly (one is Psycho this year!), but if you're blessed with babies or toddlers who will sleep well in their stroller, go for it!

Photo by adjustafresh, used via Creative Commons license.

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1 Comment

Caitlin Giles said:

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This is such great info to have. Catching a movie outdoors is on my summer to-do list.

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