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20 Ways To Save Money Every Time You Go To The Movies

20 Ways To Save Money Every Time You Go To The Movies
Norm Tedford Dec 8, 2019
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I always find watching a movie in a theater to be an incredibly exciting experience.

I felt that way as a kid.

And, after all these decades, I still feel that way.

It’s one of the many ways I stay connected with my inner child. 

I LOVE checking my brain at the entrance to a darkened movie palace.

And then, get lost in the flickering images on the screen as I blow my diet by eating a HUGE tub of popcorn all by myself!

(Please don’t judge me for being a movie theater glutton. We all have our vices).

Sometimes, you just want to watch a flick in a movie palace because small screens don’t do justice to stories that are epically cinematic in nature.

For me, the best time to go to the movies is the summer.

That’s because when you walk into an air-conditioned multiplex on a sweltering July afternoon, you can vicariously become the hero you always dreamed of being.

It’s an immersive experience made a thousand times more so because you’re sharing your cinematic journey with others.

And even if they’re total strangers, sharing your experience only intensifies your emotional reaction to what’s transpiring on screen.

However, if you’re not careful, the costs of your multiplex outing can really start to add up.

That’s because already, expensive ticket prices are getting even more so.

Motion picture palaces, to compete with others for a dwindling audience share, are adding ever more luxurious amenities.

These include things like rich Dolby surround sound, stadium seating with perfect views of the screen, and even reclining, heated seats.

In some geographic regions, you can expect to pay over 14 dollars for your little motion picture outing.

Continually rising prices are making moviegoing prohibitively expensive for people into the whole frugality thing.

If you bring your entire family, it’s easy to blow fifty bucks or more unless you have a few frugal moviegoing strategies up your sleeve.

So, if you’re both a frugality maven and a cinephile, you owe it to yourself to read this article!

This way, you won’t have to skip a trip to the multiplex because it would violate your frugal principles.

There are a myriad of strategies you can use to save on going to the movies in this article, and none of them involve smuggling food in.

This is something you shouldn’t do because concessions are the only way a theater makes money.

They basically rent the movie from the distributor and only receive five to 10% of what you’re paying for a ticket.

So, promise me you won’t engage in this most heinous of practices.

Use these strategies instead, and you’ll find cheaper ways to see movies that everyone else pays full price for.

It’s like being a member of an elite club!

1. Free Studio Screenings

Go to a free screening, and a studio will pay for your movie trip.

The studios give these tickets away for free because they know that people who enjoy the film will provide plenty of word-of-mouth advertising by posting on social media.

Sign up for advance screenings at websites like Gofobo, AdvanceScreenings, and SeeItFirst.

Gofobo is a site where movie studios and public relations firms offer advance screening passes directly to members of the general public.

Public screenings posted on Gofobo are open to everyone until tickets run out.

Gofobo allows you to have two separate accounts.

So, sign up for a second one if you want to be able to reserve more than one pair of tickets.

You can also earn the privilege to attend private screenings in so many other ways.

These are things like social media and radio contests.

Also, by following PR firms on social media, you’ll be among the first to hear about these showings.

One of the biggest of these companies is Allied Integrated Marketing.

Follow them on Twitter @AlliedIM.

2. Free Radio Station Tickets

Radio stations give away free movie passes all the time.

Find out which stations in your area do this and then stayed tuned to score a free trip to your local movie palace!

3. Discount Movie Theaters

For a cheap movie night, go to a discount movie theater.

It’s such a terrific way to save money.

You might have to wait a short few weeks for the movie you want to see to arrive there, but it’s going to be so totally worth it.

You’ll see the same film you’ll see at a first-run theater—just a little later on in its release cycle.

So, why not wait a few short months and see it for less?

You’ll be rewarded for your patience with much cheaper tickets.

Some of these theaters are three bucks every day, and $1.50 on Tuesdays.

However, expect to pay a lot for snacks.

That’s because they make up for their cheap tickets with higher concession stand prices.

4. Discount Movie Days

Most theaters have discount days when the price of admission is lower than on other days.

So, if you wait to see your movies these days, you’ll save a bundle.

Tuesdays seem to be the most popular choice for a discount day.

5. Matinees

Every theater also has lower prices for matinees, and many theaters have an even lower price for the first matinee of the day.

Cinemark is one of the chains that does this.

However, you’ve got to be careful when you’re counting on getting matinee prices.

Anything before 4 PM used to be always be called a matinee.

But now, you often have to get a showing before 3 PM to get the lower matinee price.

6. Food Manufacturers’ Promotions

Often, food manufacturers run promotions for free movie tickets.

So, stay alert for these offers you’ll find on product packaging when you do your grocery shopping.

If you find one, you’ll score a no-cost trip to the nearest multiplex.

Recently, Juicy Juice ran a contest where you could win tickets to see Frozen II.

7. Divvy Up the Snacks

At the theater, you can’t bring your own food.

But nobody can stop ya from bringing your small bags to divvy up a big bucket of popcorn into smaller sizes for the kiddies.

It’s much cheaper to do that than to buy a small bag of popcorn for each of them.

8. Eat Before You Go

Smuggling snacks into the movie palace is totally against the rules, so I won’t suggest you do that.

However, eat before you go so you don’t succumb to the temptation to dine on their high-priced cuisine.

Even if you only wolf down some fast food, it still will be so much cheaper than buying food at the theater.

You can save some cash by not buying a drink.

Another benefit to forgoing a beverage is that you’ll minimize having to use the restroom in the middle of the flick and risk missing part of it.

9. Free Movies in the Park

For a super exciting and cheap movie outing for your kids, check out free movie screenings in a local park.

They get to see a flick under the stars, which can be a magical experience for a person of any age.

Also, unlike movie theaters, you can bring your own snacks, saving you TONS of money.

10. Skip the Special Formats

Skip the 3D and IMAX to avoid paying a surcharge for these formats.

These formats don’t give you the best cinematic experience anyway.

For starters, 3D movies are notoriously darker than they need to be.

So, by not watching flicks in this format, you get the purest cinematic experience and save some cash too.

11. Loyalty Programs

Many theater chains offer fantastic loyalty programs.

Check with your local multiplex to see what the cost of membership is.

Then, figure out how many movies you’d have to watch and snacks you’d have to consume in a year to make buying a membership worth your while.

For example, for $8.99 per month at Cinemark theaters, you can sign up for their Movie Club.

This entitles you to get 20% off everything you buy at the concession stand.

What’s more, you also won’t have to pay any fees for online ticket purchases.

They also give you one free 2D ticket each month.

AMC Stubs is another loyalty program.

To get started for free with this popular tier of membership, sign up for AMC Stubs Insider.

As a member, you can get cheaper tickets if you purchase them on Tuesdays.

You can also start earning points towards rewards, getting 20 points for each dollar you spend.

You can spend rewards you earn on food, beverages, or membership upgrades.

AMC Insider also allows you to get a free refill on every large popcorn you buy.

If you’re hungry for more perks, join AMC Premiere.

It cost fifteen dollars a year and has all the benefits of Insider plus a whole lot more.

With this tier of membership, you’ll never have to pay online ticketing charges for the rest of your moviegoing life.

But for the highest echelon of perks, you’re going to have to sign up for the AMC Stubs A-list.

You get every perk available at the two lower tiers of membership, plus you get to watch three free movies each week.

You can choose from all available cinematic formats, including IMAX and Dolby Cinema.

Best of all, there are no blackout dates!

12. Subscription Movie Passes

One of the very best ways nowadays to watch a flick for the lowest price is the Regal Unlimited movie subscription pass.

With one, you pay just 18 bucks a month, and you can watch as many movies as you want, wherever you want.

Plus, you’ll get 10% off all food and non-alcoholic beverages.

To join, just download the Regal Movie app.

Then, click on any Regal Unlimited banner and follow the steps.

You can pay in full, or month to month using your debit or credit card.

As a movie buff, it sounded like a deal that was too good to pass up, so I signed up the second I heard about it.

I pick one day a month where I do a marathon of four flicks in one day.

It’s a lot of fun!

13. Discounts for Seniors, Students, and the Military

If you’re enrolled at a college, you can often get discount tickets.

When I was attending my local community college, I could get a couple of dollars off each ticket I purchased through the institution.

These programs are popular among students, who, after all, aren’t exactly rolling in the dough.

Cinemark offers senior citizen discounts, student discounts, military discounts, reel family time ($1.25 off each ticket every Monday for groups of three or more).

14. Buying Your Tickets in Bulk

Food isn’t the only thing you can save on if you buy it in bulk.

Interestingly enough, movie tickets can also be bought that way.

At, you can find some fantastic bulk buying deals that will knock your socks off.

You can save up to five bucks a ticket if you buy more than four at a time at this site.

Cinemark also has a Platinum Super Saver gift card, which means you can get a $14.50 ticket for $9.

The only problem is you have to buy at least 50 Super Saver tickets.

This will set you back $450.

It’s a good deal if you’ve got that kind of money just sittin’ around.

They also have concession Super Saver gift cards good for one small popcorn and one free small fountain drink.

Try big-box warehouse stores for some incredible deals on bulk cinema admissions.

So, while you’re stocking up on your household staple supply at Costco, get a pack of movie tickets too.

For example, this store has Cinemark Super Saver tickets for $38.99 for a four-pack.

Usually, tickets cost $11, so you’re saving $5.01.

Costco isn’t the only big-box warehouse store offering this tremendous deal.

Sam’s Club decided to compete with their biggest competitor by getting into the act too.

They offer two $25 gift cards for $39.99, which is a 20% discount.

15. AAA Movie Discounts

AAA isn’t just for automobile-related savings.

You can also use it to save a little moolah on your movie theater outings.

They offer some hefty discounts on all of your cinematic adventures.

For example, at a theater in my area, I can get movie tickets for $9.50 each.

This saves me three bucks off the regular price of $12.50 apiece.

16. Discount Gift Certificate Websites

You might think a movie gift certificate is a perfect thing to give to someone, but not everyone feels that way.

And people wanting to trade gift cards given to them for cold hard cash has fueled the meteoric rise of discount gift card sites like

People can sell their unused cards on the site.

This allows you to buy them for a considerable discount.

There are gift cards for 5%, 10%, 15%, or even more off their retail value, including movie gift certificates.

For example, you can get a MovieScoop gift card for theaters in the Pittsburgh area, letting you see a flick for nine bucks.

This saves you $3.50 over the regular rate of $13.00.

If you use your gift cards for matinees, your total cost might be one-half less or more than what an evening showing costs!

Another place for great movie gift card deals is Gift Card Granny.

17. Discounts for Being Courteous

These days, it’s hard to find theaters where people don’t talk and text during the movie.

Some theater chains are starting to reward patrons for silencing their phones to combat this grievous lapse in manners.

One of the companies doing this is Cinemark.

Download their app and put your phone in what they call “CineMode” (meaning it’s nonoperational during the feature).

Then, you can earn rewards good for money off movie tickets.

And your good manners will pay off in cold, hard cash!

(I bet you never expected that).

18. Drive-Ins

Drive-ins are another terrific choice for the super frugal moviegoer because you get to see two first-run features for the price of one.

However, charging by the carload, which traditionally made the experience even cheaper, is something that most of these theaters no longer do.

Even without this, it’s still a whole lot cheaper to go to a drive-in than it is to see a movie indoors.

Plus, you get to bring your own snacks, although some drive-ins are levying a small surcharge for this privilege.

An exciting innovation in the wonderful world of drive-in theaters is season passes.

One theater offering these is the Jericho Drive-In in Glenmont, NY.

They have one for $200, allowing you unlimited trips to their theater for an entire summer.

If you’re a huge drive-in buff, this a terrific deal!

A nice bonus is that they throw in a $25 concession stand gift card when you plunk down your money for the pass.

And, for as long as you’re a pass holder, you’ll also get a free large soda with the purchase of a large popcorn.

Check to see if your local drive-in theater offers this fantastic deal!

19. Buy Movie Tickets with Meals

You might be able to lower the price of your movie ticket by purchasing your meal at the same time.

For example, at, they often have special movie dinner packages like a $25 gift restaurant gift card bundled with a $25 movie gift card for 30 bucks.

20.Finding Movie Coupons

Coupons aren’t just for things you buy in stores.

You can also use them to get some incredible deals on your movie theater experiences.

These could include things like free snacks with a purchase, or a percentage off your theater ticket.

For example, at RetailMeNot, you can get tons of coupons and codes, giving you steep discounts on all your cinematic outings.

21. Don’t Use Online Reservation Sites

Buying your tickets online is super convenient, right?

Too bad you get charged a pretty penny for that convenience.

Most booking sites charge you a buck or two to use their service.

So, if you want to maintain your credentials as a card-carrying frugal maniac, steer clear of these sites.

22. Group Deals

Lots of websites for group deals like Groupon or LivingSocial offer money off for ticketing websites like Fandango.

These are usually a certain percentage off a single ticket or a flat rate for tickets for two.


So, there you have it.

22 solid ways to save on all your cinematic outings.

A trip to the multiplex doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition if you employ these strategies.

You deserve to treat yourself occasionally to a big-screen spectacle.

And it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Just don’t sneak food in because this isn’t exactly ethical.

There are many other ways to save money on your movie trips without having to do this.

So, go out there and see a movie on the big screen, and confidently declare (if only to yourself) “I’M NOT GOING TO PAY A LOT FOR THIS MOVIE!”

That’s because going to the movies doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your frugal principles.

Norm Tedford

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