Ways to Save Money at the Movies

Movie Popcorn Photograph - Ways to save money at the movies

With climbing prices to catch the latest blockbuster film, it is important to save money at the movies. The average ticket price for 2018, according to the National Association of Theater Owners, was $9.11. Compare this cost to a ticket priced at $2.34 in 1978 and it is clear prices have gone up.

The issue isn’t even the ticket prices, which have actually kept pretty close to inflation. It is the add-ons for items at the concession stand or paying extra for something like a 3-D experience. The proceeds from selling movie tickets do partly go to film studios. They receive an estimated 60% of the sale. Movie theaters receive the other 40%.

The rising price of a movie ticket is only one of the places to try and save some money. The concession stand is where the theater can make up to an 85% profit on the items they sell. This is where they try to make the majority of the money. Rent, electricity, employees, and food costs all contribute to the money a movie theater must make to be profitable. It is understandable that movie theaters need to make an income to keep the doors open. But, the overall costs have made it much more expensive than it was at one time. What are some ways to save money when going to a movie?

Save Money at the Movies by Watching at the Right Time

Going to the movie theater at the right time of day can easily save a few dollars on the price of a ticket. Matinees are typically less expensive than an evening viewing. Depending on a movie theaters schedule, watching a movie in the morning or early afternoon can be a ticket price difference of two or three dollars. Evening movies are prime time for date night after dinner. When the sun goes down the price goes up at the movies.

Buy Movie Tickets at the Booth or Discount Packages

There are many places to buy a ticket to the movies these days. Websites, apps and movie theater kiosk machines are all options. The issue with these is there are many times an added service fee of a few dollars for the convenience. Buying a ticket at the movie theater counter can be less expensive compared to other methods.

If you are a person that enjoys going to the movies frequently, buy a pack of tickets at a discount from places like Costco. This will save a few dollars. Looking at a current offer from Costco they currently have a four pack of movie tickets for 37.99. The tickets have no expiration and can be used at any movie time of the day. With nighttime movies being $15.00 or more in many areas, this is a good saving for watching in the evening.

Besides movie ticket package deals and buying at the box office, it may be advantageous to purchase a movie pass. This is for the dedicated fan for watching movies. AMC currently offers their A-Stubs package for $19.95 per month plus tax. This allows a member to see up to 3 movies a week. The normal add on price to watch in 3-D or IMAX is also included in the monthly price. Reward points can be accumulated and freebies obtained at the concession stand over time. At $19.95 per month that is the price of about two tickets to the movies.

Avoiding convenience to purchase tickets and buying them at a discount store is a great way to save a few bucks. However, if you are a very frequent moviegoer, then a pass might be the overall best value.

Join Rewards Programs

Monthly movie membership passes are not the only program to receive perks at the movies. A number of theaters have reward programs that anyone can join for free. Points accumulate for ticket and concession purchases. The number of points earned will depend on how often a person goes to the movies and spends money, but they can add up. It may take some time, but eventually, some free popcorn or soda is possible. With these programs being free to join, why not get the discount?

Student, Senior, and Military Movie Discounts

If you have a student ID, check to see if the movie theater offers a discount. Most of them do for the purchase of a ticket. Senior and military discounts are also not uncommon. When buying a ticket to see a movie ask if there is a discount even if there is no sign indicating this. There often will be some type of price reduction.

Eat Before Going to the Movies

The best choice to save money at the movies is to ensure you are not hungry when entering the theater door. If you haven’t eaten all day, there is a good chance the cash register at the concession stand will ring and it will ring loudly.

Snacks and drinks are unquestionably the most expensive items at the movies. As previously mentioned, this is where the theater owner makes a large majority of revenue. Furthermore, the concession stand is where there is the largest markup. A bag of popcorn or a drink that costs pennies on the dollar for the theater owner to purchase will cost $5-$10 or more to have a snack during the show.

Snacks and drinks are the most expensive itmes at the movies

I will admit that I am personally guilty of sometimes purchasing a snack. A good tip is to share with someone. Larger quantities of popcorn and a drink can be less expensive for two people. Share them and it will cost less.

Sneak Food Into the Movies

I am not encouraging taking your own food into a movie theater. This can be a personal decision. Many of the larger movie theater chains discourage people from taking in larger bags or purses. However, taking refreshments into a movie may not be that difficult. It is only my personal opinion that it could possibly be done. I wouldn’t know this from personal experience of course (or I might), but I have a feeling it is feasible. Strip searches and x-ray machines are not yet at any of the movie theaters I have gone to recently.

If a person did bring in their own food by chance, it would save quite a bit of money. A $5.00 box of candy at the movie concession stand could easily be picked up at the dollar store.

Get the App

There are a lot of free Apps and coupon sites to get deals at the movies. Just do a Google search and see what comes up. Sites like Groupon sometimes has good deals on locally owned smaller theaters. Signing up for email notifications on popular movie Apps can also reward a subscriber. Emails with coupons and discounts are not uncommon. Just make sure to be careful of surcharges and extra fees when purchasing tickets away from the box office.

Work at the Movie Theater

It’s not for everyone, but putting in a few hours part-time at the local movie theater can have some perks. Going to see movies for free and advance screenings can be an advantage. In addition, getting some popcorn or a drink may not be out of the question depending on the guidelines for employee discounts.

Do Your Movie Research

There is nothing worse than paying to see a movie that is no good. It’s a waste of money and time. Critics are not always right, but they can give you a good idea if a film is worth seeing at the theater. I often rate new releases as either eligible to pay the price to see them in the movie theater or wait until they are released via streaming or DVD. Unfortunately, in the past few years, it seems that many movies are a better value to wait and watch them at home. I rarely pay to go to the movies anymore. It seems to be one remake or sequel after another.

Save Money at the Movies and Watch at Home

The easiest way to save money at the movies is to not go. With movies being so quickly released to streaming or DVD there is not a very long wait to watch at home. There are some advantages to this. No long lines, screaming kids, or rude people to deal with comes to mind. Also, the refreshments are much less expensive and you can make whatever you feel like having.

Many years ago, going to the movies was often more for the experience of enjoying the great sound. With inexpensive quality home theater systems available today it is easy to make your own great home movie sound. Investing just a little will pay off over time by watching movies at home.

It is way less expensive viewing movies from the comfort of your own couch. With movie tickets averaging $9.11, I have currently chosen to get the two DVD Netflix deal a month on Blue Ray for $6.99. This gives me access to new releases. There are yet even less expensive options like Red Box.

Final Thought

Personally, I don’t go to the movies as much as I did many years ago. Research is also showing that attendance by others is much less than it used to be. The costs have just gotten out of control for me to spend the kind of money on a regular basis that movie theaters are asking. Inexpensive 4k televisions and home theater systems have enabled me to enjoy the full movie experience at home.

Although I do not go to the movies as much, there are times when I still decide to make the trip. But, I am always looking for the best deal. Furthermore, because I don’t go that often, I don’t mind splurging a little on the times I do go so I can enjoy myself.

What do you think of the costs to go to a movie these days? Have you found that you do not go as often as you might have at one time? Do you have any tips to save even more money?


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