a peek inside the fishbowl

17 Jul, 2013

The cheapest ways to catch a movie in Ottawa

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|Ottawa|parenting

This is the continuation of yesterday’s post on the topic of movies.

I am determined to make this The Summer of Film here at Casa Fishbowl!

We went to a special screening of Despicable Me 2 the other day and we had a good time. Although it had some very funny moments I’m not convinced that it was as good as the first one. But that is neither here nor there. We were lucky that our admission was covered – thanks to freebie passes that were gifted to us –  but that’s doesn’t happen every day.

So here’s the question: how can we have a Summer of Film and have it not cost an arm and a leg?

Well, we have options! I’m ranking them here from cheapest to most expensive.

  1. 1) FREE: Borrow DVDs from the local library. OPL has a lot of great films but you have to go there in person to see what they’ve got. It’s hit and miss, but you can’t beat the price.
  2. 2) FREE: Swapping DVDs with friends is also a great way to save a few dollars.
  3. 3) ALMOST FREE: Find a Zip.ca kiosk near you. Few people I’ve spoken to about it have heard about their movie kiosks. They offer 24-hour DVD rentals and most of their offerings are only $1. Blu-Ray and new releases are only $2. A total steal.
  4. 4) PRETTY CHEAP: Catch an older release at Rainbow Cinemas. I’ve mentioned Rainbow here before. You can watch a film there for $2.50 on Tuesdays. Now that’s a deal!
  5. 5) RELATIVELY INEXPENSIVE: Netflix! I think we’re among the last people on the planet to clue in that there are endless films on rotation on Netflix. The first month is free, then it’s $8/month after that. Considering how many movies we watch this is money well-spent for us, but I guess we’ll see how we feel after a month.
  6. 6) NOT FREE, BUT A GREAT DEAL: Theatre viewing is last on my list because it’s not the cheapest option, but in some cases it might be the ONLY option if there’s a special film you want to see. If you buy a membership the ByTowne Cinema it is a pretty inexpensive way to see a movie on the big-screen. Memberships are $11.00 and are good for 12 months. Membership entitles the card holder you to a discounted admission price of $7.00 per film. It’s the best place to catch an international or independent movie. And some are family-friendly too.
  7. 7) STILL ON THE CHEAP SIDE – the Port Elmsley Drive-In, which I wrote about here. On Thursdays you can bring a carload of people for only $20. Not bad eh?

Of course you can rent a movie right off the TV. We have Apple TV, and each download is $5.99 or so. I think it’s the same price if you rent it through Bell or Xbox.

Got anything to add? I’d love to hear it.

And just for the heck of it I’m tracking all the movies we watch together as a family (and associated costs!) right here.

11 Responses to "The cheapest ways to catch a movie in Ottawa"

1 | Tricia

July 17th, 2013 at 12:04 pm


One of my favorite cheap movie viewing experiences in the summer is Centretown movies. Technically free, but donations are appreciated. Outdoor movies in Dundonald park (Somerset between Bay and Lyon). Just bring a blanket or chair. Here is this summers listing:

I also like “Movies at the Beach” This is their schedule:
Friday July 19 – Westboro Beach Park – Hunger Games
Friday August 2 – South Nepean Park – The Croods
Friday August 16 – Heritage Park, Orleans – The Avengers

2 | Maranda

July 17th, 2013 at 12:12 pm


I LOVE the Port Elmsley Drive In! When we lived on the west side, we went pretty often. Unfortunately it’s a huge drive now… we really miss it. Great value for families, and it’s fun too.

3 | Mary @ Parenthood

July 17th, 2013 at 12:13 pm


Heh. The Mayfair is cheaper than the Bytowne apparently ($20 for family of 4 membership, $10 single membership, $6/movie). One thing I quite like about the Mayfair is their movies with live orchestra for time to time. So cool!

4 | Maranda

July 17th, 2013 at 1:43 pm


The Mayfair is closed, but I heard it’s opening up again as a second run theatre. Which will make taking the kids much more affordable :)

6 | Mary @ Parenthood

July 17th, 2013 at 10:37 pm


Maranda, I think you must be thinking of the Orleans satellite Mayfair theatre which closed in Feb & is reopening as CineStarz. But the “real” Mayfair just by Landsdowne Park just bought a new digital projector & I don’t see anything online indicating it closed. My BIL goes regularly (and has been in last week or so). He didn’t mention anything and I would definitely expect him to. I am pretty sure it is still open!

7 | andrea tomkins

July 18th, 2013 at 9:52 am


Great suggestions everyone!

You’re right Mary. It’s the Orleans Mayfair that closed. The original one on Bank Street is still open… and yes, it’s cheap too. :)

A note to Emilie – The Family Cinema was one of our faves when the girls were small. It’s closed over the summer though!

8 | Brigitte Cusson

July 18th, 2013 at 11:03 am


There is also redbox rentals popping up – all the Giant Tigers have one now too, that has a sticker with a free promo code offer for first time renters!

I think their daily rental rate is $1.25 –

9 | Carly

July 18th, 2013 at 11:33 am


What about movies in the park? Majic 100 hosts them, as does Place d’Orleans. Not sure who else may, but they’re also free, sometimes with donations to a local food bank appreciated.

10 | Jen_nifer

July 18th, 2013 at 7:10 pm


Agreed about Despicable Me 2 – funny, but lacked the character development we saw in the first one.

11 | Will Humphries

December 30th, 2016 at 12:52 am


Cineplex Saturday mornings on the big screen for family faves ($2.99):


And the usual cheap Tuesdays ($6.99 gen adm compared to $8.50)

What about starting your own DVD club? I have hundreds to share !! (possibly illegal, however ;-/)

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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