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A Poor Man’s Guide to Going to the Movies

Updated on October 23, 2012

It's Intermission Time!

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10 Ways to Save at the Movies and Stay In the Black.

Let’s face it; in this economy it’s almost impossible to keep food on your plate, gas in your car and a roof over your head! Of course these priorities are first and foremost, but if you’re anything like me you’ll agree that you also need entertainment. A trip to the movies can set a couple back upwards of $50.00. For that price, you could have rented twenty-five movies! Take my advice and don’t sit around brooding about it. Just use these frugal solutions offered up from worse to the best to help you on your quest to have fun cheaply at the movies!

Tip #1: Make It a Double Feature and Get 2 for 1

If you have the nerve, hang out in the bathroom or just get up from the movie you just saw and walk on over to another theater to watch the rest of a different movie. Remember that old shtick of walking backwards through the door? (Or… you can just do the right thing and keep checking with the theater to find out when the next double-feature will be offered.)

Tip #2: Save On Gas & Admissions

The next time your sweetie suggests a night out, why not make it a family and friends event? Give your in-laws, neighbors, co-workers, etc. a call to see if they are up for a “group date” to the movies. The money you save on gas by piling lots of folks in two or three cars will be significant. Also, you all will save on buying movie tickets in bulk at group discount rates at the door. {For all you chronic cheaters, have your “love mates” meet you at the cinema. Just be sure to drop me a line before you do. I do love a good brawl.} The point is a group of people enhances the possibility of several people in your party helping to add to the savings; including making use of senior and kid discounts. Regal Theaters offers block rates consisting of 50 people or more bringing the cost down to $7.50 per person. Just call or go online to find out more.

You could also use public transportation to save on gas, but who feels like waiting around for a bus after you’ve just sat for 90 minutes. If you live in a micro-community within a large city, you also have the option to walk there. I am fortunate enough to live in a residential area just a few blocks away from a Dipson Theatre, bars, shopping, and restaurants. If you aren’t as lucky, the carpool suggestion is probably most suited to you.

Tip #3: Bring Your Own Snacks

1. [Disclaimer: If you are the nervous or honest type, skip this tip and move on to tip #4.] One of the best ways to save money is to bring your own snacks. When my kids were little I used to pick up snacks from the dollar store, then go home and make up individual sandwich bags with juju bees, popcorn, milk duds and completed it with a can of generic soda. (INSERT LAUGH HERE) Getting it all pass the ticket-takers was also a breeze. I would either carry an over-sized purse or stuff everything into the inside pockets of my coat. I just had to be sure I didn’t overdo it. I’ve never been frisked, but then again my purse or coat was never so big that it drew attention. This tactic might sound a little ghetto, but I saved $55.00 just in the cost of concessions! Be advised, Regal Cinemas has a sign posted which reads, “We reserve the right to check all bags and packages.”

Tip #4: Try Deal

I’m not too keen on this website, although you can find discounted movie tickets here. It’s a knock-off of Q-Bids and charges you $.60 per bid in auctions for deeply discounted stuff. Don’t get me wrong, the goods offered are exceptional, but the catch is in order to get the deal you have to outbid thousands of other anxious bidders. There doesn't seem to be a real strategy for success, other than overpaying for something you might have gotten cheaper somewhere else. If you figure it out, let me know.

Tip #5: Make It A “Stay Matinee”

How about taking the $50.00+ you would have spent at the movies and investing it towards a 70” to 92” LCD television to get that cinematic experience? The technology is so advanced now that some televisions today come with full stereo surround-sound and 3-D! The prices range from $2,688.00 for a 70” television to $6,000.00 for a 92” television (See YouTube video below for more information). The prices may seem pretty steep if you’re expecting to plop down the entire amount in one purchase. However, if you take advantage of the free layaway plans at Wal-Mart and Kmart now and put down $237.00 (four trips a month to the movies) each week for the next eleven weeks you’ll be enjoying your fabulous 70” LCD screen during the Super Bowl and still have been able to afford Christmas! You can even heighten your viewing pleasure by subscribing to NetFlix and buying dollar store snacks for that big screening party!

Tip #6: Go Less Often and Spend Less at the Concessions

If you have kids, sometimes it’s best to use family entertainment as a form of reward for good behavior. You can also save money by only going to the movies on holidays, birthdays and special occasions. Either way, kids learn to appreciate the experience more when it isn't a part of their regular routine. Also, when you do go, “buddy-up” on the popcorn and soda by buying the giant size of everything and have everyone share. This way nothing gets wasted at the end of the flick and you save $3.00 per person in comparison to having bought individual servings of popcorn and soda.

Tip #7: Go to the Matinee or Open Caption Shows

Well, almost everyone is familiar with the matinee show that offers discounted shows Monday through Thursday. AMC Theaters offers the “Weekday Escape” at half price Monday through Thursday. Family movies are also sometimes offered for free during this period. However, did you know you could also get deep discounts by going to the Saturday afternoon matinee? That’s right; you can save $4.00 per person by going to the 1:00 pm or 2:00 pm showings.

If you prefer to go a little later, another excellent trick is to go to the “Open Caption” evening show to receive the same deep discount as the afternoon shows. These shows are open-captioned for the hearing impaired and display captions at the bottom of the screen. To find one, just go online to Fandango or to your local theater’s website and look for the words “Open Caption” in a red box next to the movie of your interest. If this suggestion makes you feel guilty about stealing a seat from some poor deaf person, don’t worry about it. Think of it this way; the theater is large enough to hold hundreds of people. If every deaf person in your area attended, it still wouldn’t be filled to capacity.

Tip #8: Join a Rewards Card Program

When you sign-up for a rewards card program you enjoy everything from free concessions to free movie tickets with lots of discounts in between. I especially love my Regal Rewards card because I can still get these privileges when purchasing tickets online while saving time by completely foregoing the ticket booth. It’s free to join and you can keep track of your accumulated points that never expire online. There are also special values offered at certain intervals such as free refills, discount movie marathons and $2.00 candy on Mondays/$2.00 popcorn on Tuesdays. They even have opportunities to earn extra points towards rewards!

*You can also use retailers’ coupon codes by going to or search for them on Google.

Tip #9: Use Groupon

1. If you aren't familiar with Groupon let me fill you in. It’s a marvelous website that offers 50% or more discounted on everything from electronics, to entertainment, to vacations! In the past year I have saved over $300.00 on fine dining alone. As it happens, they are offering a “Screening Room Café” in my local area. This in a nutshell is cult and indie films screened in a café style setting. For $12.00 you receive two regular admission tickets and two free popcorns. It’s all legit and guaranteed. Need I say more?

Tip #10: Movie Discounts and More with AAA Membership:

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the monster of all discounts! Not only do you get great service and peace of mind with an AAA Auto Club membership for as little as $57.00 a year, but you also get it in style. AAA offers prices discounts off regular admission for the following theaters: Regal Cinemas- $4.50, Cinemark - $1.00, Dipson Theatres - $1.25, and Little Theatres - $1.00. Along with these discounts they offer other savings at sporting events (GO BILLS!), zoos and aquariums, museums and galleries, site-seeing, music and theater shows, food and wine treks and theme parks.

92" LCD Television


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    • sweetypie1968 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Mosaicman, Thanks for checking in. So, Tampa is where all the good people ran off to?

      It's funny you mention the Supersaver Cinemas, because it actually inspired me to write this hub. It's a shame it is no longer in existence. I guess a few bad apples can spoil the whole bunch.

      Happy movie going and try not to spill anything in her purse. They aren't machine washable. :)

    • mosaicman profile image


      8 years ago from Tampa Bay, Fl

      Sweetypie, I am from Buffalo. I caught your Go Bills Reference. I used to go to the Galleria Mall to watch shows or the University Theatre. Finally, I worked a the Supersaver Cinemas that used to be on Elmwood Ave. It was a 2 dollar second run movie house. It was amazing and saved lots of dollars.

      Now I go to the Dollar Tree before a show and we put the goodies in my wife's big purse. The price for popcorn and a soda today is absurd.

      Nice tips.


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