Save Money at the Movie Theatre with Discounted & Free Tickets

December 2, 2008

Who doesn’t love love going to the movies? There is something special about watching a great movie at the movie theater for the first time, rather than seeing it on television. There’s something mystical about watching it with a crowd of people, booming sound, and a picture that’s 50 feet long and 20 feet high.

Face it, America loves movies. We embrace great actors, and we talk about classic movies all the time in general conversation. But, I’m sure that you’ve noticed the price of a movie ticket going up quite a bit in the last 10 years. Most nice movie theaters are now $9.00 to $10.00 for a movie ticket. And the food, that’s a whole different story. We know that the food at the movie theater is massively marked up, but people still buy it.

These days it’s tough for a family of four to go see a movie together without paying $60 to $75. That seems ridiculously expensive, so here are some simple tips for saving money at the movies.

Go To a Matinee. This is the most simple way to save money at the movies. Most people like going to the movies at night, but if you choose the matinee, you’ll save $2 to $3 per ticket. If you’re taking your children to the latest kid’s movie, go during the day. They’ll have a better time, and you’ll save some money. Plus, the crowds are usually a little smaller during the day.

Patron Your Locally Owned Movie Theater. Like many industries, the movie theater industry has been taken over by the mega plex movie theater companies such as AMC, Regal, and United Artists. However, there are still locally run movie theaters that offer less movie options and less amenities, but you can still get the movie theater experience for a little cheaper. When we lived in Gainesville, Florida, there was a local movie theater that offered all of the latest movies, but they only charged $6 per ticket at night. It was a great deal, and there were less crowds at this theater.

Join the Rewards Program. Some corporate run theaters such as Regal Cinemas offer a rewards program where you get points every time you buy a ticket. We’ve bought concessions food and received free tickets simply by filling out a form for a free rewards membership.

Check The Local Newspaper For Promotions. In West Palm Beach, Florida, the local newspaper offers free tickets to one of the latest movies out if you go and pick them up at the newspaper’s office. They might try to get you to buy a newspaper subscription, but all you need to do is simply say, “no thanks”.

Eat Before You Go. If you come to the movies on a full stomach, you’ll be less likely to be lured into the magnificent scent of movie theater popcorn. Fresh popcorn is one of the greatest smells on earth, and movie theaters know it. That’s why they jack up the price, because the smell sells itself. if you’re taking your kid to the movies on a special occasion, then go all out and get him or her popcorn and candy, but if it’s just you and your spouse going out to the movies, eat before you go. You’ll save a lot of money by skipping the concessions stand.

My philosophy about saving money is that you don’t need to pay retail for anything in life. If you continue to find ways to save money in every aspect of your life, you’ll start to see a surplus of money in your bank account at the end of the month. Use that surplus to invest and give to others and you’ll become a wealthy person. Don’t pay retail prices for the movies.

These money saving tips are part of the series on saving money on entertainment.  So far we’ve covered how to save money on your television bill.


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Erik Folgate is a husband and father living in Orlando who's been writing about money online for 6 years. Digging himself out of $20k of debt after college and his former experience in the insurance industry give him some useful insights into personal finance issues.

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9 Responses to Save Money at the Movie Theatre with Discounted & Free Tickets

  • marci

    I’d have to say that when the price went up in 1990, I quit going to the movies…. so that would be about 18 years ago 🙂

    Those were good tips tho if someone still wants to blow a lesser amount of money than the full deal 🙂

  • sara l

    The best thing I’ve found is workplace discount bundles, where you can buy tickets for $4-5 dollars each. The key is knowing which of your firends has this option at work.

  • Erik

    Lien – your tip about going to the library would apply for saving money on watching movies, but this post is specifically for how to save money when going to the movie theater.

  • Lien

    what is wrong with free movies from a library? what kind of money saving advice is that? seriously! how about “patron your local libraries”?


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