Popcorn, surround sound, big screens and cushy seats definitely make for an awesome movie experience, but are they really worth shelling out that $13? Image: Blue Jean Images/Corbis
Besides hottie Cristiano Ronaldo’s slew of disappointing performances at the 2014 World Cup, something else bemoaned all over the world is — surprise, surprise — the sneakily increasing prices for movie tickets.
If you haven’t realised this already, it can now cost you up to $13 to catch a movie on the weekend in Singapore. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like way too much for a mere movie to me, and face it, you can probably find these movies online for free as fast as within a week — albeit in poor, handy-cam quality.
It’s hard choice, though, to choose between cost and a high-quality movie experience on a big screen. Lucky for you though, you don’t have to make that decision because I’ve found six places in Singapore where you can get an awesome movie experience for absolutely nothing — that’s right, you won’t have to pay a single cent.
1. MARINA BAY, for an open-air movie experience
Image: MovieMob by Ape
Ever since the Jurong Drive-in cinema closed down, there’s barely been anywhere you can get a great outdoor movie experience, and if you were born in the ‘90s like me, you probably won’t even know what that is.
Now though, you have a chance to experience, or relive, the magic of movies under the stars at Marina Bay. Brought to you by both DBS and Singapore’s first free drive-in movie concept, MovieMob, the DBS Movies By the Bay is a free monthly outdoor cinematic experience, complete with popcorn, drinks and snacks brought to you by social enterprises. You can even vote for the movies screened on Facebook.
If Marina Bay Sands is a little too out of the way for you, or you prefer to enjoy the movie from the comfort of your car, you can try your luck with MovieMob’s regular fortnightly screenings that take place all over the island, ranging from Drive-In screenings to indoor shopping mall screenings.
When: Third or fourth weekend of the month
Where: Next to The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
For more information about DBS Movies By The Bay, visit http://www.dbsmarinaregatta.com/activities-movies.php; for more information about MovieMob, like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/apemoviemob
2. NLB, for a heartwarming family movie
Image: National Library Board
You’ll be surprised but our local neighbourhood libraries are a virtually untapped treasure trove of resources. Besides loaning out books, both hardcopy and electronic, and even movies, the NLB libraries also screen movies for free. This is part of NLB’s initiative to further an interest in reading as after watching the films, viewers can pick up the related books and audio-visual materials that are usually displayed nearby.
The selection is typically family-friendly, ranging from Alvin and the Chipmunks to blockbusters like Avatar, so this is perfect for a weekend or night out with the kids. Movie screenings at the library@esplanade, however, go beyond mainstream movies and include classic, indie and even foreign films.
Timings and dates vary for the different branches, but they usually range from once to twice a month, so do check out NLB’s website for more news and information on these screenings.
When: First Wednesday of the month at library@esplanade and varying times and dates for other branches
Where: library@esplanade, Central Public Library, Woodlands Regional Library, Bukit Merah Public Library and Queenstown Public Library
For more information about the movie screenings, visit www.nlb.gov.sg/GoLibrary (Under “Programmes”, then “Other Happenings”)
3. SUBSTATION, for indie Singapore short films
Image: The Substation
If an hour long movie is too mainstream for you, check out Substation’s monthly short film screenings, First Take. Happening on the first Monday of every month, First Take showcases short films of up-and-coming Singapore filmmakers and gives you the chance to meet and talk to the brains behind the films. Currently, the screenings have been shifted from Substation’s in-house theatre to Lasalle College of the Arts due to construction in the area.
When: First Monday of the month
Where: Lasalle College of the Arts, F208, Block F, Level 2 (Staircase near Lowercase Café)
For more information on the movies being screened, visit http://www.substation.org/
4. THE ART HOUSE SCREENING ROOM, for literature and art film lovers
Image: The Art House
Looking for films with a little more depth? Try the Screening room at the Arts House (above) — a literary haven for all art-film lovers. Located in the 200-year-old Old Parliament House, Singapore’s oldest surviving government building, the Screening Room features various indie and art films as part of the Arts House’s aim of spreading the love for literary art in Singapore.
Currently, it is screening a series of films inspired Shakespeare’s works — including an adaption of A Midsummer Night’s Dream starring a younger Christian Bale (swoon) — in celebration of the Bard’s 450th anniversary and also as part of its regular film series, “But Is The Book Better?”. This film series selects a particular author every few months to highlight and screens a variety of film adaptations from that author’s works.
These screenings, however, require registration online so do check out their website for more details.
Where: 1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429
For more information about the Art House and movies screened, visit www.theartshouse.com.sg
5. JAPAN CREATIVE CENTRE, for J-movie fans
Image: Japan Creative Centre
Located at the beginning of Orchard Road, the Japan Creative Centre (JCC) is a hidden treasure that will delight any Japanese culture lovers. Celebrating the rich Japanese culture, the JCC not only hosts various Japanese art exhibitions and performances, it also holds screenings of Japanese movies from time to time for free. However, as seats for these screenings are limited, registration via email is required. Screenings also do not have regular timings so do check out the JCC website for more information.
Another big event to look out for by the JCC is the annual Japan Film Festival in Singapore, held from June 26 to July 12 in 2014, where some of the best of Japan’s contemporary films will be shown. Tickets for a good deal of the Japan Film Festival screenings go for free, but they are on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s best you find out the details for specific screenings on their website and head down early.
Anime and manga lovers can also check out their E-Library which boasts a good collection of music, movie, anime and other Japanese documentary DVDs as well as books relating to Japanese innovation and culture, free for reference by the public. Computers and audiovisual equipment are also installed onsite for your viewing pleasure.
When: June 26 to July 12 (Japan Film Festival)
Where: 4 Nassim Road, Singapore 258372
For more information about the Japan Creative Centre and the movies screened, visit http://www.sg.emb-japan.go.jp/JCC/; for more information about the Japan Film Festival, visit http://jpfilmfestival.com/jff2014/
6. CHANGI AIRPORT, for late night movies
Image: Changi Airport
If I were ever to get stuck in transit, I would wish I were in Changi Airport. Not only does it have an amazing butterfly park and entertainment hub, it also boasts not one, but two 24/7 movie theatres for all you movie buffs. The first one, located at Terminal 2, streams the latest movies directly from the FOX Movies Channel while the second one, located at Terminal 3, screens a selection of movies released within the past six months specially curated by the staff at Changi. Some of the movies currently available for viewing at Terminal 3 are The Hobbit, Gravity and Pacific Rim. These are all free-of-charge for ticketed passengers so next time you need to catch a flight, make sure you arrive early.
When: 24/7, daily
Where: Changi Airport Terminal 2 and Terminal 3
For more information, visit www.changiairport.com
Of course, there’s still a price to pay for these screenings even though you might not have to fork out a single cent — for one, you can’t specifically select your movie, neither can you choose the date or time. Still, it’s free movies we’re talking about here — and we Singaporeans are nothing if not cheapskates — so I’m pretty sure that most of us will still jump at this chance, no?
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