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7 ways for Pittsburgh kids to see free or really cheap movies this summer

Candy Williams
May31/ 2017

The relaxing summer season is a great time to watch movies with the kids. Escape hot summer days in an air-conditioned theater or unwind on summer nights with cinema under the stars.

There are lots of opportunities to do both this summer without paying for pricey tickets. Some theaters offer admission as low as $1 to top-quality feature films your kids will love.

Many of these family-friendly movies are from the past year. Some are as new as the live version of “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Batman LEGO Movie.” It’s catch-up time for those films you’ve missed, as well as a chance to enjoy a second look at favorite movies. Little ones will love viewing “Finding Dory” and “Trolls,” while teens will head to “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” and “Rogue One” from the “Star Wars” series.

A special event is planned for kids who love the dizzying, breathtaking effects of IMAX. Fans will get a thrill from the 31-hour marathon that closes out the Rangos Omnimax Theater at Carnegie Science Center.

David Huffman of SouthSide Works Cinema says their annual $1 summer film series is popular with families and summer camps, which make the movies part of their weekly schedule.

Free movies run all summer long as part of Allegheny County Summer Movies in the Parks program and Pittsburgh CITIPARKS Dollar Bank Cinema in the Park, held in neighborhood parks in and around Pittsburgh.

Folks get creative when they come out on movie nights, says Kevin Evanto, chief marketing officer for Allegheny County.

“Many families bring blankets and lawn chairs, as well as snacks and munchies – popcorn, pizza and so forth. You name it, we’ve seen it,” he says. “People really make a night out of it. Some kids come dressed in their pajamas and bring their pillows, just in case they can’t keep their eyes open for the whole movie.”

The format of the county movie programming is changing this summer. Evenings will begin with family games and activities at 8 p.m. The movie rolls when it gets dark.

“This will give families with smaller kids the opportunity to have fun, even if the little ones can’t stay awake for the movie,” Evanto says. “We are also concentrating the movies in North Park and South Park on set evenings.”

summer movies
Families gather at Deer Lakes Park for a relaxing movie under the stars.

ALLEGHENY COUNTY SUMMER MOVIES IN THE PARKS

The Allegheny County Summer Movies in the Parks series screens films in three parks this year. Movies will be shown at Wagman Observatory in Deer Lakes Park on June 17 and Aug. 19. South Park movies will be screened on Wednesdays from July 5 to Aug. 9 at the Amphitheater. North Park movies will run on Thursdays from July 6 to Aug. 10 on the Boathouse lawn.

June 17: “Rogue One,” Deer Lakes Park Wagman Observatory

July 5-6: “The LEGO Batman Movie,” South Park and North Park

July 12-13: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” South Park and North Park

July 19-20: “Finding Dory,” South Park and North Park

July 26-27: “The Secret Life of Pets,” South Park and North Park

Aug. 2-3: “Sing,” South Park and North Park

Aug. 9-10: “Moana,” South Park and North Park

Aug. 19: “The LEGO Batman Movie,” Deer Lakes Park Wagman Observatory

summer movies
The view from Mt. Washington is an added benefit to watching a movie at Cinema in the Park.

CITIPARKS CINEMA IN THE PARK

Free family movies are scheduled through CITIPARKS Cinema in the Park from June 4 to Aug. 31 throughout Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

Sundays are marked for Schenley Plaza in Oakland, Tuesdays at West End Overlook Park, Thursdays at Brookline Memorial Park, Fridays at Arsenal Park in Lawrenceville, Saturdays at Grandview Park in Mt. Washington and Riverview Park. Highland Park will screen films on June 5, July 17, and Aug. 21 only.

The same films run all week on different nights at different locations, with the exception of Observatory Hill at Riverview Park and Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park.

Week of June 4: “The Secret Life of Pets”

Week of June 11: “Sing”

Week of June 18: “LEGO Batman”

Week of June 25: “Jungle Book”

Week of July 2: Pete’s Dragon”

Week of July 9: “Alice Through the Looking Glass”

Week of July 16: “Finding Dory”

Week of July 23: “Nine Lives”

Week of July 30: “A Dog’s Purpose”

Week of Aug. 6: “Queen of Katwe”

Week of Aug. 13: “Moana”

Week of Aug. 20: “Beauty and the Beast”

Week of Aug. 27: “BFG (Big Friendly Giant)”

summer movies
Cinema in the Parks includes PG-13 films for teens, such as “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.” Photo courtesy of Warner Bors.

Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park and Observatory Hill in Riverview Park will be showing a different lineup of movies that are rated PG-13. The Flagstaff Hill screenings include a musical performance from 7 to 8 p.m. before the film. Movies at these two locations include:

June 7, 10: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

June 14, 17: “Ghostbusters”

June 21, 24: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Out of the Shadows”

June 28, July 1: “Airlift”

July 5, 8: “Captain America – Civil War”

July 12, 15: “Rogue One”

July 19, 22: “Dr. Strange”

July 26, 29: “The Good Lie”

Aug. 2, 5: “Arrival”

Aug. 9, 12: “Almost Christmas”

Aug. 16, 19: “The Great Wall”

Aug. 23, 26: “On a Wing and a Prayer”

Aug. 30 (Schenley Park only): “Jason Bourne”

summer movies
“Ice Age: Collision Course” opens SouthSide Works Cinema’s $1 Summer Family Film Series. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

SOUTHSIDE WORKS CINEMA

Southside Works Cinema presents its annual $1 Summer Family Film Series on Wednesdays at 10 a.m. from June 21 to July 26. All seats for the films in this series are $1. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. One adult is required for every 10 children.

June 21: “Ice Age: Collision Course”

June 28: “Kung Fu Panda 3”

July 5: “Trolls”

July 12: “Horton Hears a Who”

July 19: “Turbo”

July 26: “How to Train your Dragon”

summer movies
“The LEGO Batman Movie” is as entertaining for kids as it is for adults. Photo courtesy of DC Entertainment

CINEMARK SUMMER MOVIE CLUBHOUSE

Cinemark theaters offer a 10-week program of G- and PG-rated films at the cost of 10 movies for $5 or one movie for $1 as part of its Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse. Local participating theaters include Cinemark 18 and IMAX at Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills; Cinemark North Hills; Cinemark Monroeville Mall; and Cinemark Center Township, Monaca.

Day, times and weeks of the series are determined by each local theater. Check the website for details. Featured movies as part of the Summer Movie Clubhouse include:

“The LEGO Batman Movie”

“Trolls”

“Shrek The Third”

“Goosebumps”

“The Iron Giant”

“Hotel Transylvania 2”

“Megamind”

“The Angry Birds Movie”

“Sing”

“The Secret Life of Pets”

summer movies
Catch “Trolls” as part of AMC Classic Summer Movie Camp . Photo courtesy of Dreamworks Animation

AMC CLASSIC SUMMER MOVIE CAMP

AMC Classic Theatres kick off summer with a nine-week Summer Movie Camp beginning June 5. For $4 each week, guests can purchase a ticket to the family-favorite film of the week and an AMC Kids Pack, which includes popcorn, a fountain drink, and fruit snacks.

Participating area locations include AMC Classic South Pike 10 in Sarver; AMC Classic Delmont 12, and AMC Classic Uniontown 6. Features at Delmont and Uniontown (Sarver dates are in parentheses) include:

June 5 and 7:  “The Lorax” (June 12 and 14)

June 12 and 14: “Trolls” (June 19 and 21)

June 19 and 21: “The Secret Life of Pets” (June 26 and 28)

June 26 and 28: “How to Train your Dragon” (July 3 and 5)

July 3 and 5: “Pup Star” (July 10 and 12)

July 10 and 12: “Sing” (July 17 and 19)

July 17 and 19: “Home” (July 24 and 26)

July 24 and 26: “Despicable Me” (July 31 and Aug. 2)

July 31 and Aug. 2: “The Peanuts Movie” (Aug. 7 and 9)

summer movies
“The Secret Life of Pets” is part of the $1 Summer Movie Series offered by MovieScoop. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

MOVIESCOOP CINEMAS

Pittsburgh-based theater chain MovieScoop Cinemas  offers a $1 Summer Movie Series. The 5 MovieScoop theaters include those at Waterworks and Cranberry. The $1 movies will run at 10 a.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. The two screenings for each movie. include a sensory-friendly viewing experience with theater lights kept on and the sound on low.

In addition to the $1 ticket price,  concession deals include a 12-ounce Junior Drink and a 32-ounce Junior Popcorn for $1 each.

June 14/15: “Kung-Fu Panda 3”

June 21/22: “The Secret Life of Pets”

June 28/29: “Trolls”

July 5/6: “The Lorax”

July 12/13: “Sing!”

July 19/20: “Bee Movie”

July 26/27: “Home Alone”

summer movies
An ultimate movie marathon is planned at Carnegie Science Center. Photo by Annie O’Neill Photography

RANGOS OMNIMAX THEATER MOVIE MARATHON

Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore has a hard-to-beat deal for kids and their families who can’t seem to get enough action on the biggest screen — a 31-hour, non-stop movie marathon of favorite films from the Science Center’s Rangos Omnimax Theater.

The special event is part of a celebratory send-off  of the old theater in advance of the brand new, high-tech cinematic experience to open this fall.

The Science Center will screen many favorite Omnimax films — nearly 20 in all — from 10 a.m. July 8 to 5 p.m. July 9.

For a $10 admission, families can enjoy unlimited Omnimax movies, all four floors of exhibits, plus Highmark SportsWorks, theater and planetarium shows, food stations and a cash bar. This all-out-fun family event includes demonstrations, free rein of the Science Center, special activities and gifts, the new ropes challenge and unlimited movies from morning through night.

Don’t worry about staying up for all of those 31 hours. You can come and go throughout the marathon.

The schedule:

10:15 a.m. “Pittsburgh’s Big Picture”

11 a.m.: “Dream Big”

12:30 p.m.: “Animalopolis”

2 p.m.: “Flight of the Butterflies”

3:30 p.m. “Jerusalem”

5 p.m.: “D-Day”

6:30 p.m.: “Dream Big”

8 p.m.: “Yellowstone”

9:30 p.m.: “Mysteries of the Unseen World”

11 p.m.: “National Parks Adventure”

12:30 a.m.: “Tornado Alley”

2 a.m. “Coral Reef”

3:30 a.m. “Special Effects”

5 a.m. “Lewis and Clark”

6:30 a.m. “Forces of Nature”

8 a.m. “Sea Monsters”

9:30 a.m.: “Hurricane on the Bayou”

11 a.m. “Mysteries of the Nile”

12:30 p.m. “Robots”

2 p.m. “Dream Big”

3:30 p.m. “Pittsburgh’s Big Picture”

4 p.m. “To the Limit”

Candy Williams

Candy Williams is a freelance writer and journalist whose articles have appeared in national and local publications. She lives in the South Hills.

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