$32, the equivalent of four months of Netflix streaming, that's what you'd spend to take a date to the movies! That's only 2 tickets, two small sodas, and some popcorn to share, at many theaters. When I started high school, seeing a movie on a Friday night was $7 in my hometown. As avid film enthusiasts, my friends and I would go to the theater almost every weekend. Now, eight years later, theater tickets to see the latest movies have inflated to $11. Needless to say, I have since become more selective in my movie choices. I often have to ask myself, is this a film that will lose something if I wait to see it on DVD? Today, getting the whole movie theater experience seems to cost a fortune. Here are ten tips to help you get into those movies you're dying to see without breaking the bank.
1, Good Timing
Most theaters don't have the same ticket prices at all times. Typically, weekend nights will be the most expensive. If possible, go see those big blockbusters on a weekday afternoon. The ticket will be quite a bit cheaper during slower times. For example, if your theater sells $11 tickets on Friday night, the weekday matinee price would mostly likely only be around $8. Be careful though, some theaters consider 3pm the end of the matinee time, so be sure to check your theater's policy.
2, 3D: The D Stands for Don't
Some people can't get enough of the last few years' trend to put movies in 3D in spite of the fact that it can often add $2 to the price. Personally, I don't get it. Sure it is exciting at first but it can get hard to focus after a while, especially in fast paced scenes. Fortunately, there is always a 2D option if you'd like to save the money. There is also IMAX to consider. For the price of a 3D movie at a regular theater you could see a 2D movie at IMAX on a 52 by 72 foot screen. However, if you see a movie in 3D at the IMAX you could spend up to $16 on one ticket. Personally, I'd rather see a 2D movie on a giant screen than a 3D movie on a regular screen.
3, Get in Line
Everybody hates a long line, but when it comes to the cinema the cheap movie tickets are in the booth. In fact, buying your ticket at the booth can be cheaper than paying online by about $1-2 per ticket. Most of the time movie ticket websites charge convenience fees for printing out tickets via the internet. There may be machines in the lobby of your theater that allow you to purchase tickets using a credit card without waiting in a long line but even these may charge an extra dollar or two. However, there are a few sites like AMC and MovieTickets that have no service fees.
4, Who Are You?
A lot of theaters have discount movie tickets for certain demographics, sometimes more than 20% off the retail price. They will have varied prices for servicemen and women, children, seniors and students. However, in my experience they will not ask you if you would like these discounts, even if you obviously fit into one of those categories. However, ask and you shall receive. Again, pay attention to your theater's specific policies. Some theaters only offer certain discounts on weekdays.
5, Let's Not Go to the Lobby
We might as well face it. The days of buying popcorn and a soda at a theater without having to pay an almost humorous amount are over. As theaters try to capitalize on the "popcorn and a movie" American tradition, you should try creating a new one. Maybe meet your friends for a meal before or after a movie. This way you don't have to spend exorbitant amounts on concession food and you can engage in social time that you won't be able to get in the quiet theater.
6, Break the Chain
Look for the cheap movie theaters in your area that aren't a part of huge chains but are also playing the movies you want to see. These theaters may not be as nice or as clean as the large cinemas but their lower prices may be worth it and the theater may surprise you. For instance, my friends and I decided to go to the midnight release of a huge summer blockbuster at a smaller theater instead of a big chain. We were delighted when we found out that they were offering a two for one deal on the tickets. That's right, two tickets for the price of one for a brand new, big summer movie. That's tremendous!
7, Loyalty is Rewarded
Some theaters offer loyalty cards for small costs or even for free. These cards can get you anything from a free small soda to a whole free ticket after seeing a certain amount of films. For instance, here are some theaters and sites that offer reward programs:
8, Get Social
Social media is a great way to get connected to your friends and family but it is also good for connecting with companies and services to get information about their latest deals. Following theaters on Twitter or Facebook may give you access to coupons and give-aways that they only make available to their followers. Regal, for instance not only posts coupons but also chances to win merchandise.
9, Pack it Up
Wholesale stores often sell packs of 4 to 10 movie tickets for relatively cheap. For instance, Costco sells a pack of 10 tickets to Regal and AMC theaters for $84.99, which is a good deal if you typically buy $10 tickets. I can think of three scenarios where this is a great idea:
- You want to take your whole family out for a night, or two, at the movies.
- You and several friends want to split a pack to get the discount.
- You know there are a lot of movies coming out that you just have to see.
However, don't buy a ticket pack if you typically see matinees or go to a cheap theater. If your tickets are already around $8 or less there are no discounted movie tickets to be found in an $84 dollar pack.
10, Patience is a Virtue
If you are willing to dodge spoilers for a month or two, waiting to see a movie at a second-run theater can be beneficial. Second-run theaters show movies that have already been out for a little while but at about half the price. Another good thing about these theaters is that they run movies that the first-run theaters have stopped showing. So if you happen to miss your chance to see the film you can get another chance to see it for a discounted price.
The best way to save at the cinema is to stay informed of the policies of the theaters in your area. Go through this checklist:
- Who has the lowest price in your area?
- When do they offer their lowest prices?
- Avoid additional costs like food or convenience fees.
Chances are you can enjoy the latest movies for less than what you thought. So what did you think?