Melinda Sue Gordon, 20th Century Fox
Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter star in "Raising Arizona," which opens the Sundance Institute's 11th annual Outdoor Film Series.

Between the still-rising fuel prices, concessions and other costs, going to the movies has never been more expensive.

The average adult-admission ticket for today's blockbusters will set you back $8, and even "discounted" tickets or matinees — which are nearing the $6 mark — are hardly "bargains."

And it doesn't help that there are early-summer duds such as "Speed Racer" out there to make you question whether it's even worth it to venture to the movie theaters these days.

Fortunately, there are some cheap, or in some cases free, summer movie alternatives.

For example, the Sundance Institute (www.sundance.org) is sponsoring its 11th annual Outdoor Film Series. A free community program, the series boasts screenings of independent and documentary features and includes movies from previous Sundance Film Festivals, as well as "hidden gems and overlooked classics that deserve to be dusted off and enjoyed again," according to organizers.

In fact, Jill Miller, managing director of the institute, called it "one of our favorite programs," citing "an eclectic, strong lineup of films."

All the films that are being screened in the series are rated G, PG or PG-13.

The series kicks off with a screening of the 1987 comedy "Raising Arizona" July 11 at the Park City Park. Additional screenings are scheduled July 14 at the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City and July 16 at the Sundance Resort in Provo Canyon.

Also featured in the series is the 2008 slacker comedy "Adventures of Power," which was shot in Utah, as well as "The Loss of a Wrestling Match," a short film directed by Brigham Young University graduate Jed Cowley. (That twin-bill will play July 25 in Park City, July 28 in Salt Lake City and July 30 in Provo Canyon.)

Other scheduled movies in the series include:

"The Iron Giant" (July 18, Park City; July 21, Salt Lake City; July 23, Provo Canyon)

"Tootsie" (Aug. 1, Park City; Aug. 4, Salt Lake City; Aug. 6, Provo Canyon)

"Moulin Rouge" (Aug. 8, Park City; Aug. 11, Salt Lake City; Aug. 13, Provo Canyon)

"Harold and Maude" (Aug. 15, Park City; Aug. 18, Salt Lake City; Aug. 20, Provo Canyon)

"The Straight Story" (Aug. 22, Park City; Aug. 25, Salt Lake City; Aug. 27, Provo Canyon)

Sundance also wraps up its annual documentary series June 4 with a free screening of "My Kid Could Paint That" in the Park City Library.

Here are other free/cheap screenings scheduled during the summer (titles and dates are subject to change):

• THE CINEMARK THEATERS CHAIN (www.cinemark.com) is once again offering its Summer Movie Funhouse, featuring bargain matinees of such recent family films as "Alvin and the Chipmunks," "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" and "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep." The series runs for 10 weeks throughout the summer at Cinemark locations, including theaters in American Fork and Provo, both the Layton and Ogden Tinseltown locations, the Sandy Movies 9, Valley Fair Mall and Jordan Landing.

• THE PARK CITY FILM SERIES (www.parkcityfilmseries.com) continues at the Park City Library. This week's selection is the comedy "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a

Day" (May 16-28), and upcoming films include "Persepolis" (May 23-25), "The Band's Visit" (May 30-June 1) and the Oscar-winning drama "The Counterfeiters" (June 6-8).

• THE SALT LAKE FILM CENTER (www.slcfilmcenter.org) has several screening events running throughout the summer months, including its new Food and Water Sustainability Series and Films You Should See Before You Vote Series. Screenings will feature "Fast Food Nation" and "Two Angry Moms." (Complete lists, featuring titles, play dates and locations, had not been finalized at press time.)

Other film-center programming includes its Spanish-language series (the first Monday of each month) and the "New Face of Africa" series. Most screenings are held in the Salt Lake City Main Library.

• THE SCERA, Orem (www.scera.org), has its own Outdoor Film Series, scheduled to run throughout the summer. The first is the musical-comedy "Hairspray" (June 11). Others include "Clue" (June 18), "Stardust" (July 9), "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (July 16), "Dan in Real Life" (Aug. 6) and "The Birds" (Aug. 13). SCERA is also offering bargain matinees for kids and families, starting in June with showings of the animated features "Bee Movie" and "Shrek the Third." (The matinees continue through Aug. 14.)


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