Grab a movie ticket, snacks and a seat. As the lights dim in the theater, take a look around. Spoiler alert: The person sitting next to you might have paid less to see the same movie.
How did they do it? Here are eight ways to lower the price of going to the movies.
Things to do before you go
1. Join a loyalty program
Movie theater loyalty programs reward frequent patrons with discounts. For example, for $15 a year, AMC Stubs Premiere members enjoy benefits like $5 Ticket Tuesdays and free upgrades on popcorn and fountain drinks. You’ll also earn points that can be redeemed for monetary rewards. (Get a $5 reward for every 5,000 points. Rewards can be redeemed on things like food and tickets.)
Many theater chains offer rewards programs. Check with your local theater to see the cost of a membership, then do some quick calculations to figure out how many movies you would have to see each year to make up the cost of joining.
When you sign up for a movie membership, fill in personal information, like your birthday, and some theaters will send you celebratory deals to use during your birthday month. You could get a free tub of popcorn, for example.
2. Check out Costco
Did you know Costco sells movie tickets and gift cards for movie tickets? And like most other things at the warehouse club, they’re a good deal. For example, we found a pack of four $25 gift cards to MovieTickets.com for just $74.99 (a $100 value). So while you’re stocking up on meat and eggs, check for movie tickets, too.
3. Leverage your dinner
You may be able to lower the price of your ticket by purchasing your meal at the same time.
For example, Restaurant.com has a movie section on its website with special gift card deals. We spotted a bundle with a $25 Regal Cinemas gift card and a $25 Restaurant.com e-gift card for $30 (a $50 value). That’s $20 in savings.
4. Join MoviePass
If you’re an avid moviegoer, a movie ticket subscription could help you actualize savings. MoviePass is a subscription service that currently costs $9.95 a month for one person (the price can change, so check online before you sign up). This unlimited plan allows you to see a movie every day.
Once you register, you’ll receive a debit card in the mail that you’ll use to purchase your ticket at the box office. Use the MoviePass app to find participating theaters near you. Note: Only select theaters allow you to reserve a same-day ticket in the app before you arrive.
Tactics to try at the box office
5. Go on the right day
You could save money simply by seeing a movie on a certain day of the week. Go online and find the theaters near you, then browse any available discount days. We’ve seen several theaters that offer cheaper prices on Tuesdays, for example.
6. Cash in on senior and military discounts
Bring your ID to the ticket window and you could be eligible for a discount because many theaters offer special pricing to some patrons. Discounts typically apply only on certain days, for specific showtimes or at certain theaters, so plan your visit accordingly.
At Cinemark, for example, discounts include military, student, senior and early bird (for the first matinee of the day that starts before 1 p.m.). Go to Cinemark’s discount page to see if there is a theater near you that participates.
7. Redeem a coupon
Just like you can find coupons for retail stores, you can also use coupon websites and apps to find deals for movie theaters. Just search for “movies” or by theater name. Deals could include offers such as a dollar amount off, a percentage off or a free concession with purchase.
8. Take kids to summer movies
During the summer, some theaters host special movie programs for kids.
For example, Cinemark offers Summer Movie Clubhouse, a “ten-week program of recently released G and PG films for kids,” according to James Meredith, senior vice president for Marketing and Communications at Cinemark.
The cost is $5 for 10 movies or $1 per movie. And while the movies are tailored to kids, the price is the same for guests of all ages. Timing of the series is determined by local theaters.
Now … shhh, the movie’s starting!