6 Ways to Save Money at the Movies

by Ryan Yates

It's hard to pay $13.50 for movie tickets

I have a dilemma in my life.

I love going to the movies, but I absolutely hate the cost of everything associated with the experience; from the ticket prices, to the concession prices, and even those darn 3D movie price-hikes.

After years of fine-tuning my methods, I’m ready to share my top 6 ways in which you can continue to watch movies on the big screen without breaking the bank. Some may call it “cheap”, but I see these tips as ammunition against price gouging.

Join the Club

Theaters like AMC and Cinemark have “Movie Watcher” clubs and cards. These programs give you pretty generous discounts on ticket prices and concessions. The more you go to the movies, the better the discounts get. There’s even a chance at free tickets throughout the year.

Joining a frequent movie program is worth it for those of us who enjoy going to the movies more than once a month. If you don’t go very often, you won’t really see much of a discount. Check your local theater to see if they have any type of frequent movie watcher discounts.

You Know, They Show Movies Before 5pm These Days

Yes your local theater is showing the same exact movies during the day time as they are after 7pm. No the theaters aren’t filled with crying kids.

If you’re not going to the movies for date night, try making time for a matinee. If you’re stuck at work throughout the week, and who isn’t, you can still cash in on the pre-5pm ticket discounts on Saturdays and Sundays.

Eat Before You Go

I feel like I could buy myself a lifetime supply of soda and popcorn for what I have to pay for exact same refreshments at the theater. Needles to say, I hate the whole system that is responsible for hiking the prices of concessions just because I want to watch a movie on a big screen.

If I go to the movies hungry, I can put away nachos, a large popcorn, some candy, and a large soda. But that costs teeters at $24.

But when I go to the movies on a full stomach, I can get through the entertainment with only a soda, or even nothing at all. Yes, some of it is a mental addiction. Who doesn’t love popcorn and candy at the movies? It’s as American as charging outrageous prices.

Or I guess you could slip some Reese’s Pieces into your pocket.

Be Selective

My movie palate has matured with my age. Yes, I still like action, adventure, comedy, and comics; but I can sniff out a rip-off a mile away. You know, those movies that are purely ridiculous, not even worth the time it takes to think about seeing the movie.

And because of the huge price difference between theater movie tickets and Netflix, Redbox, or Blockbuster movie rentals, I tend to only go to the theater for the mega-blockbuster movies.

You don’t have to be as picky as I am. But if you can group your movies into categories like “see in the theater” or “wait for dvd”, you could save a little cash by not blowing $10 on every movie Hollywood spits out.


Ok, this tip won’t actually “save” you money by itself. But it can help you free up money within your budget and give you a little pep in your step knowing that you’re not paying for your entertainment with money meant for something else, or, God forbid, a credit card.

And when you combine entertainment budgeting with the above money savers, you’ll be a well-oiled machine of movie-money-saving-madness.

Runner Up

Of course, not all money savers made my top 6. But don’t forget to employ ideas like student and senior citizen discounts, dollar theaters, using your credit card rewards for movie tickets, or asking for a voucher if your theater experience was sub-par (like a noisy theater or sound malfunctions).

Photo By EvelynGiggles

{ 1 comment }

krantcents May 9, 2012 at

I bought group discount tickets for $6 each. Normally a full price ticket is $11.75. We go late in the afternoon and go to dinner afterwards. No snacks at the theater. It lowers the entertainment budget quite a bit.

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