While summer is best known for blockbuster movies, it's also a great time to find free and cheap movies that aren't wallet busters. The season is chock-full of movies in the park, film fests of the classics and even dive-in movies at the pool. Pack a picnic basket and take a look at these free and cheap date nights or family outings:
Summer Classic Movie Series: The historic Tampa Theatre is a great setting to see a classic movie and this summer is filled with notable and groundbreaking films. This Sunday at 3 p.m. brings Yankee Doodle Dandy, the life story of composer and playwright George M. Cohan, played by James Cagney. July 14 brings American Graffiti, the coming-of-age film directed and co-written by George Lucas that, believe it or not, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. USF film professor Harriet Deer will lead a short discussion after the film. The movies are $9; $7 members at Tampa Theatre, 711 Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 274-8982. Some other highlights: Dr. Strangelove (July 28), Jaws (Aug. 4) and it wraps up with Casablanca, above, on both Saturday and Sunday Aug. 24-25.
Scream on the Green: The summer experiment of scary movies in Curtis Hixon Park offers two more chances to get your date to leap into your lap at the monthly midnight horror movies in the park. On tap for July 19: Dawn of the Dead. On Aug. 16, it's time for The Exorcist. Best of all, it's free. Concessions will be available for purchase, including from food truck Wicked Witches. Low-backed chairs, leashed dogs and coolers are allowed, but not alcohol. The park is at 600 N Ashley Drive in downtown Tampa.
Muvico Free Summer Film Fest: The movie chain's summer movie series brings a different children's movie every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning at these theaters: St. Petersburg's BayWalk, Palm Harbor 10 in Palm Harbor, Starlight 20 in Tampa and Centro Ybor 20 in Tampa. Next week they will be showing Hotel Transylvania.
Regal Summer Movie Express: The movie chain shows G- and PG-rated movies for $1 every Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the summer at Park Place Stadium 16 in Pinellas Park, Largo Mall 8 in Largo and Citrus Park 20 in Tampa. Movie schedules may vary by location. Check individual theaters for information. Next Tuesday is Coraline and Wednesday is the sequel ParaNorman, both at 10 a.m.
Movies on the Patio: The Dalí Museum puts a surreal twist on cult classics by having female impersonator Kori Stevens host this series and encouraging the audience to dress in movie attire. On July 16 at 7 p.m. it's Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and on Aug. 20 it's The Big Lebowski, above. They are free at the museum, One Dalí Blvd. (Bayshore Drive SE and Fifth Avenue SE), St. Petersburg.
Dive-in Movies: It's just $4 to see movies while you float in the St. Pete Beach city pool with its huge Olympic swimming lanes, a spray play area for kids and two large water slides. Bring your noodles, floats and chairs for movie watching. Gates open at 8 p.m. and the movie starts after sunset. Next up: July 12 is Space Jam and July 19 is Cars 2.
Flick and Float: More dive-in movie offerings include Fridays in July at Southwest Recreation Complex and Pool, 13120 Vonn Road in Largo, starting July 12 at 9 p.m., where it's $5 ($4 for residents) to float around in the pool, play themed games, get free hot dogs, contests, crafts and a film. Upcoming movies: Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (July 12), School of Rock (July 19) and Thunderstruck (July 26).
St. Petersburg's Flick and Float: St. Pete gets into the dive-in movie action, too. They will be showing Brave, right, on July 25 at Northwest Pool, 2331 60th St. N. Admission is $3.50 age 3-12, $4 age 13 and up. Floats are provided and the flume slide and diving boards will be open starting at 8 p.m.
Sunset Cinema at Pier 60: This is a year-round perk at Clearwater Beach, where every Friday and Saturday night they play a movie for free as the audience kicks back on blankets and low lawn chairs. Tonight they will be showing E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Saturday is Apollo 13. Next weekend is The Goonies on July 12 and Jack the Giant Slayer on July 13. The movies start shortly after dusk. Concessions for sale; no alcohol. It's at 10 Pier 60 Drive.