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Roku is best known for hosting paid streaming services like Netflix, HBO, and Hulu. But that doesn’t mean you always have to pay for your entertainment. There are hundreds of free Roku channels, including free movie channels that rival anything the subscription services provide. When you’re streaming on a budget, Roku has your back. Here are the best channels for free movies on Roku.
Roku free movies: The best channels to watch
1) Pluto TV
If you miss live TV after cord-cutting, Pluto TV will feel like a homecoming. This free streaming TV solution offers live channels and on-demand content, including a host of streaming movie channels. Users get 16 ad-supported movie channels streaming 24 hours a day, plus hundreds of Hollywood hits in the on-demand section. Pluto TV rotates its licensed movies every month, but the channels it carries cover a broad spectrum of titles. Pluto TV might not be the same as cable, but it comes darn close.
2) Tubi TV
Tubi TV has taken Crackle’s crown as the best free service on Roku, with a massive library of over 7,400 TV shows and movies available for free streaming. This ad-supported network doesn’t have original content, instead focusing on its vast library of films and series. Anime fans, in particular, should take note of Tubi’s incredible collection, but there’s honestly a little something for everyone. While many services feature mostly direct-to-video films and old shows, Tubi TV puts award-winning movies and series in your reach. If there were an ad-free option, we’d subscribe.
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Vudu is mostly known as a streaming rental store, but the service recently expanded to include a large selection of ad-supported free programming. Surprisingly, Vudu’s free selection is incredible, featuring a host of big name movies from the ’80s onward. Batman, Miss Congeniality, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind are just a few reasons why Vudu’s free content rivals Hulu. Ad breaks happen a few times throughout your movie, but they never feel like a hassle. If Vudu starts offering ad-supported 4K movies, it’ll be unstoppable.
You might be surprised to learn that Roku has gotten into the streaming game itself, offering a mix of news and movies for free to all users. Drawing its news from ABC and featuring movies like The Matrix trilogy and The Karate Kid, the Roku Channel is similar to other Roku free channels. However, it runs better than almost any other streaming service on the device, in part because the same people make both. When every other service fails you, the Roku Channel is there with the goods.
For fans of out of print movies, YouTube is the unsung hero of the free streaming world. Users have uploaded millions of titles from around the world, providing one of the largest film libraries on the planet. The legality of it is occasionally questionable, though the lack of an official release for many titles will help keep your guilt at bay. If there’s a lost favorite from your childhood that you can’t find streaming anywhere, give it search on YouTube. You might be pleasantly surprised.
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6) Sony Crackle
Sony Crackle is an ad-supported service that features plenty of big Hollywood blockbusters and excellent TV series. Along with classics like Talladega Nights and The Karate Kid, Crackle has started to dip its toes into original programming. Its series The Oath, Start Up, Snatch, and Hook’d are surprisingly entertaining slices of TV, arguably worth a spot on AM in another universe. The ads can sometimes be a little much, but for free programming, it’s a steal.
In the 1980s, the Vidmark label was home to some of the best horror, sci-fi, action, and B-movies around. Eventually going on to become Trimark pictures, Vidmark lives on today via this incredible streaming movie channel. Designed to look like a ’90s video store, the Vidmark channel delivers ad-supported full-length genre pictures in beautiful HD. Drawing from Vidmark’s library of lost VHS classics like The Dentist and Class of 1999, the Vidmark channel is a nostalgic treat for anyone who ever worked their way through a video store horror section.
8) Popcorn Flix
At first glance, you might expect Popcorn Flix to be just another app for B- and C-grade crap. However, closer examination shows unexpected treasures like Secretary and John Ford’s Stagecoach. Thanks to a deal with Shout Factory TV, Popcornflix also has a surprisingly good horror section. If you’re willing to explore, there is plenty to love here, just expect to pass through a lot of modern John Cusack films you’ve never heard of to find them.
Genre fans must immediately upon reading this paragraph stop what they’re doing and download the Shout Factory TV app for Roku. This channel being free is a real mystery, with a catalog overflowing with classic horror, sci-fi, and genre entries. Our favorite feature on the channel is the ability to watch certain movies with their DVD commentary tracks. And that’s just the free movies. The TV section has beloved lost sitcoms and, most importantly, subtitled episodes of all the original Super Sentai series. That’s the show American studios turned into the Power Rangers in the U.S. Trust us, the original is somehow even wackier. You’ll never be bored with Shout Factory TV.
10) Midnight Pulp
Roku, if you haven’t noticed by now, is a dreamland for fans of weird cinema. Midnight Pulp is yet another streaming app overflowing with high-quality genre offerings. Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste lives side by side with the ’80s splatter classic Society, and the softcore Power Rangers parody Sexy Rangers. Standup comedy specials share space with hardcore Japanese thrillers like Gozu. Midnight Pulp may not offer much for mainstream cinema fans, but if you’ve got an open mind for extreme cinema, Midnight Pulp will never leave you bored.
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Fans of indie cinema should bookmark SnagFilms right now. Drawing from a deep well of beloved documentaries, cinema classics, and art house favorites. Oddly, modern streaming channels are increasingly abandoning their libraries of classics, making SnagFilms a rare space for fans of classic films. Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Audrey Hepburn, John Wayne, Abbott, and Costello: SnagFilms delivers the classics no one else offers. Add to that a Sundance-worthy collection of indie films, and SnagFilms could easily charge a subscription. Instead, you just need to watch a few ads.
FilmRise is yet another streaming channel built on a foundation of indie films and TV. A large chunk of the FilmRise library is made up of distributed TV shows, ranging from children’s favorites like The Big Comfy Couch to the BBCs Dracula. You might think that’s all FilmRise has to offer, but its movie selection is equally robust. Platoon, the ’90s Man in the Iron Mask, and Child’s Play immediately stick out as choice cuts, but there are unsung treasures if you’re willing to dig.
Need more help? Here are the best Roku hacks, how to turn off your Roku, how to use Kodi on Roku, and how to make Roku screen mirroring work. If you’re looking for something to watch, here are the best Roku channels, Roku private channels, Roku free channels, and free live TV on Roku.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.