Free, discounted movies offered throughout county during cold months

While movie deals are popular in the summer, free and discounted films are offered during the colder months, too.|

There's no denying the fun of watching an action-packed blockbuster on opening night, and “Harry Potter” fans likely won't forget standing in long lines for the midnight premiere of the beloved wizard's final adventure on the big screen.

But another thrill awaits moviegoers in Sonoma County - something lesser-known but widely appealing: free and low-cost movies at local libraries, colleges, theaters and halls.

While Rohnert Park's Green Music Center and several cities and organizations offer popular outdoor movie series during the summer months, there are options to see free and discounted films during the colder seasons, and in the comfort of heated venues.

You may have to forgo luxury seats and cup holders, in some cases, but it's an even trade to watch recent titles, vintage movies, family films or horror classics at affordable prices or, better yet, for free. Some hosts even provide complimentary popcorn.

Sonoma County Library rolls the projectors year-round, with everything from kids' favorites to documentaries to treasured holiday classics. Each branch schedules its own programming; some are occasional, while others, like the Central Santa Rosa Library, have monthly series.

Earlier this month, the forum room at the central branch was darkened for a Día de Los Muertos screening of “Coco,” the Academy Award-winning Disney-Pixar animated film about a young boy's adventures in the bright and beautiful Land of the Dead. Petaluma Regional Library hosted the film the same day, with children invited to decorate large boxes as cars and trucks for a pint-sized, drive-in movie experience.

Mercedes, a Santa Rosa grandmother of 11 who preferred not to give her last name, was among those watching “Coco” at the central branch. She was succinct about what brought her out for the movie: “It's free.”

Mercedes, 59, usually attends the Central Santa Rosa Library's Third Friday Family Movie Night series, sometimes with grandchildren in tow. With free popcorn, pretzels and juice boxes, it's a special treat for the family.

Kim Dargeou, a children's services librarian at the branch, said the series is ideal for youngsters, including toddlers “who may not be ready for a movie theater.” She sets up seating with adult- and kid-sized chairs and a carpet in front for children who might prefer to stretch out during the movie.

“It's a chance for them to get to know other kids,” Dargeou said. “If they get chatty a bit, it's not a problem.”

She said part of the fun is watching children's reactions to the big-screen adventures. When one cheers or boos, other kids often join along. Adults are understanding. As she explains before each screening, “It's a kids' event.”

Other library screenings cater to various audiences. Upcoming events include teen movie nights in Cloverdale; documentaries observing Native American History Month; a fall documentary film series; and a North Bay movie classics presentation of “It's a Wonderful Life.”

The Sonoma Film Institute at Sonoma State University, as well as the Petaluma Film Alliance at Santa Rosa Junior College's Petaluma campus, provide free and low-cost movies in a variety of genres.

There's a half-price night at Sonoma 9 Cinemas in Boyes Hot Springs, and in Santa Rosa two theaters host discount days and Third Street Cinema offers several deals for budget-conscious moviegoers. Santa Rosa's Schulz Museum schedules various Peanuts movies every month, and hosts its First Friday Film Series from February to May that screens feature films favored by the beloved cartoonist, Charles M. Schulz.

Free holiday movies are offered in Yountville in neighboring Napa Valley, too.

Catherine DePrima, marketing director for Santa Rosa Cinemas, formerly Santa Rosa Entertainment Group, said there's great appeal in sitting in a movie theater, forum room or auditorium as part of an audience focused on the big screen. Watching a video at home may be convenient, but for DePrima, “I have a hard time sitting at home worrying about what I should be doing.”

Those who want to venture out - away from thoughts of laundry, dirty dishes and other household chores - might consider some of the options listed below. From free films to tickets topping off at $6 a person, here's a sampling of movie deals around the region:

Sonoma County Library

In addition to providing free DVD movie rentals and the on-demand film streaming service Kanopy, with more than 30,000 titles, Sonoma County Library hosts numerous free screenings at branches throughout the county.

Upcoming films include “Won't You Be My Neighbor?,” part of the Fall Documentary Film Series, at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Healdsburg Regional Library, 139 Piper St.; “Brother Bear” at 4 p.m. Friday, part of the Third Friday Family Movie Night series at the Central Santa Rosa Library, 211 E St.; Teen Movie Night at 4 p.m. Friday, featuring “The Golden Compass” at the Cloverdale Regional Library, 401 N. Cloverdale Blvd.; and “Up Heartbreak Hill,” part of Native American Heritage Month, at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Central Santa Rosa Library.

Screenings in December include the 1946 holiday classic “It's a Wonderful Life” at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Sebastopol Regional Library, 7140 Bodega Ave. The film is presented by Steve Moore and North Bay Classic Movies; registration is requested at A discussion follows the film.

For a complete listing, visit

Sonoma 9 Cinema

Watch current releases for $4.75 on Half-Price Tuesdays, “any movie, any age, any time.” Some restrictions apply; not valid on legal holidays, opening day of any feature or for special engagements.

The Sonoma Valley theater is located at 200 Siesta Way, Boyes Hot Springs. For listings, call 707-935-1234 or visit

Third Street Cinema

Recent releases are shown for $3.75 daily at Third Street Cinema, 620 Third St., Santa Rosa. For 3D films, admission is $4.75.

Part of Santa Rosa Cinemas, the theater also hosts a Take 2 Special on Wednesdays, with the $12.50 fee including two movie tickets, two drinks and two bags of popcorn. Free Movie for Seniors is held at 9:30 a.m. the first Thursday of the month, November to June. Seniors age 60 or older can choose from several different film titles.

Additionally, Santa Rosa Cinemas offers a cult film series at 7 p.m. every other Thursday, with a double feature for $10 or a three-part monthly series for $25. A Burt Reynolds tribute (part two) features “The Cannonball Run” and “Smokey and the Bandit II” this Thursday.

Movies include horror comedies, science fiction and horror films from the 1970s and '80s. The series currently is held at Third Street Cinema but returns to the Roxy theater in Santa Rosa after renovations are complete, reportedly before Christmas.

For listings or information, call 707-525-8909 or visit For an e-newsletter announcing upcoming movies and special events, email and include your first and last name and “socoevents” in the subject line.

Petaluma Cinema Series

The Petaluma Film Alliance, a partnership with community sponsors and Santa Rosa Junior College, produces the Petaluma Cinema Series Wednesday nights at the Carole L. Ellis Auditorium at the Santa Rosa Junior College Petaluma campus, 680 Sonoma Mountain Parkway.

Screenings include classic, foreign and independent films, with lectures at 6 p.m., films at 7 p.m. and post-screening discussions until 10 p.m. General admission is $6, $5 for students and seniors.

The fall series continues with: “A Special Day,” this Wednesday; “Gloria,” Nov. 28; “In America,” Dec. 5; “Paper Moon,” Dec. 12.

The series is held weekly September to May. For details, visit

Sonoma Film Institute

Located on the Sonoma State University campus, and operated under the School of Arts and Humanities, the Sonoma Film Institute is the oldest film repertory organization in the North Bay.

More than 30 films are presented from August to April, silent cinemas to avant-garde, across cultures and with education opportunities for moviegoers.

Films are screened in the Warren Auditorium in Ives Hall, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. Admission is free; suggested donation is $5. SSU charges a $5 parking fee.

The upcoming schedule features: “The Third Murder” at 4:30 p.m. Sunday; “Cocote,” 7 p.m. Nov. 16 and 4:30 p.m. Nov. 18; “The Beaches of Agnes,” 7 p.m. Nov. 30 and 4:30 p.m. Dec. 2; and the 1944 holiday classic “Meet Me in St. Louis,” 7 p.m. Dec. 7.

For more information, call 707-664-2606 or visit

Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation

As part of its community outreach, the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation offers a screening of “Albatross,” a film directed by Chris Jordan, at 7 p.m. Nov. 29 at the Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa. The film has strong emotional content and is not recommended for children under 12.

Admission is free, with donations accepted.

The foundation also screens “The Most Unknown,” a documentary presented to stimulate a love for scientific inquiry, asking questions like “What is time?” and “How did life begin?” The film begins at 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Laguna Environmental Center.

The sliding scale fee begins at $5.

Registration is required for each film; visit For more information, call 707-527-9277.

Airport Stadium 12 and Roxy Stadium 14

Santa Rosa Cinemas offers two discount days, with $6 general admission ($9 for 3D). Discount days are Tuesdays at Airport Stadium 12, 409 Aviation Blvd., and Wednesdays at the Roxy, 85 Santa Rosa Ave.

Discounts are for all shows, all day, except legal holidays. Some restrictions apply.

For shows and information, call 707-525-8909 or visit

Charles M. Schulz Museum

The Schulz Museum offers free Peanuts-themed movies with regular admission (free to $12), with different monthly titles tying in to holidays and exhibits. The screenings include various interviews with Charles M. Schulz, covering everything from his inspiration for the comic strip to his life and career.

This month includes “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “Snoopy's Getting Married,” screened various times and days throughout November.

For those planning into the new year, the First Friday Film Series returns with screenings of some of Schulz's favorite films, offered February to May. Movies begin at 7 p.m. at the Schulz Museum, 2301 Hardies Lane. Admission is $5.

The schedule features: “Smokey and the Bandit,” Feb. 1; “The Dirty Dozen,” March 1; “Knute Rockne, All American,” April 5; and “The Getaway,” May 3.

For more information, call 707-579-4452 or visit

Yountville Holiday Movie Series

Modern holiday classics are offered free by the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater, Yountville Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Yountville. The Yountville Holiday Movie Series is held at the Lincoln Theater, 100 California Drive, Yountville.

Featured films are: “The Santa Clause,” 7 p.m. Nov. 18; “National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation,” 7 p.m. Nov. 23; “The Polar Express,” 3 p.m. Nov. 25; and “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” 3 p.m. Dec. 9.

Although there is no charge, reservations are required at

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