Moviegoers deserve to see films on the big screen, eat, and pay rent without having to take out a payday loan.
But it’s not easy.
The average cost of a movie ticket in 2018 is $9.16. That’s the average. For many people that price is much higher, making a trip to the movies less of a fun activity and more a luxurious splurge that can only happen after frantic budgeting.
I mean, after you’ve bought your ticket and forked out for a soda, popcorn, and Red Vines, we’re talking around $30-$40 to see Avengers: Infinity War in 3D.
In that regard, you’ve every right to be a little disheartened. But don’t despair! I’ve got the solution. Well, 21 solutions, really. Discount movie tickets!
There’s absolutely loads of ways you can save massive amounts of cash every month at the box office, but they’re not all common knowledge. Some are well-known, while others are secret hacks that I’ve uncovered after months of trawling the darkest recesses of the web.
As a result, I’ve crafted this here list which includes 21 ways you can score discount movie tickets that will save you big bucks. And the best thing about these hacks? They’re all really easy.
So go on. Go forth, save cash, and see movies!
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1. Get a movie theater rewards card
The big movie theater chains are like any other business. They want to keep you coming back! That’s fine by me — I was planning on watching hundreds more movies before I die anyway!
So what are those chains going to do to sweeten the pot? Offer loyalty programs.
A few examples include:
- Regal Cinemas Crown Club
- AMC Theaters’ AMC Stubs
- Cinemark Connections
- Marcus Theaters’ Magical Movie Rewards
These movie theater rewards programs are absolutely free. Granted, you might have to hand over your email address to do it but let’s not kid ourselves: you’ve given away your e-mail address for far worse things.
Plus, there are loads of additional freebies like drink and popcorn refills thrown in once you’ve signed up.
Once you’ve signed up, loyalty cards give you rewards for continuing to drop cash at that particular theater. Each time you buy tickets and concessions, your loyalty card is swiped. Every purchase earns you points that you can then use to get free or discounted tickets and snacks.
Okay, so what if you don’t live near a big theater? Don’t worry. My local chain has their own loyalty card program, so it’s worth asking at your nearest independent theater if they offer something similar.
And hey, if they don’t: you might have just given them an idea.
2. Promotional codes and coupons
Deal sites such as GroupOn and LivingSocial regularly tempt the moviegoing masses with heavily-discounted movie deals.
My local independent theater chain often delivers deals this way. Admission, a drink, and a popcorn are all available for less than the price of a normal ticket. When you think about it, that all adds up, making for a pretty nice deal. It also means you can splurge on that post-movie burrito you were thinking about.
GroupOn and LivingSocial also push deals from other ticketing outlets, allowing you to grab:
Fandango promo codes
You know Fandango, right? They sell so many movie tickets in the US because of how easy the service is to use. Plus, the app allows you to use e-tickets, solving that age-old problem of how the hell you’re going to print a ticket when your toner has run out.
GroupOn offers hundreds of Fandango coupons that shave off several dollars from your box office bill. Simply tap in your Fandango discount code and you’re away.
Regal cinema coupons
Regal Cinemas is also in on the GroupOn action. The most recent Regal offer was a 100% markup deal on a gift card. You pay $20 for a gift card, and get $40 to spend. That’s double the value. Sweet!
3. Online discount deal companies
In case you didn’t know: I love Dealflicks. It rocks the casbah. It’s kinda like Hotwire but with movie tickets.
The company started in 2012 by figuring out a way to sell off the 88% of unsold seats in movie showings. How? By dropping the prices 60%.
All you need to do is visit the site, tap in your zip code, and it will show participating theaters closest to you. Click the film you’d like to check out deals for and select a date.
Not every movie at participating theaters is discounted, and those that are don’t offer deals on every showing. But, if you’re flexible and work around it, this is a fantastic way to catch a movie and concessions for a massively discounted rate.
Moviepass is a movie ticket subscription service that’s a total bargain.
It’s also super simple to use. All you do is sign up online, receive your MoviePass card in the mail, download the app onto your phone and you’re all set to go.
The subscription fee recently changed to $9.95 a month, and it’s undergone another switch to $6.95. This is a great option if you see two movies a month. You’ll notice those savings immediately.
You can technically see one movie every 24 hours – no 3D movies, alas – and tons of indie and chain theaters accept it.
If you’re thinking of trying it, please note: there’s a termination fee if you cancel your MoviePass subscription within the first year.
4. Afternoon delight
No, no, not *that* sort of afternoon delight. I’m talking matinee performances. Choosing to go earlier in the day can not only free up your evening, it’s a great way to knock a few bucks off your ticket.
Cinemark theaters go one step farther, offering a great discount on pre-matinee performances. If you can manage to get out of bed that early.
It’s a great option for those of us who’d like to see more movies at the cinema without forgoing groceries for the rest of the month.
5. Citizen discounts
Bring your ID. Yes, it’s imperative you bring ID if you’re opting to have a beer during the show but more to the point, a lot of movie theaters will extend courtesy discounts to seniors, students and military.
Flash your card and you’ll likely get a percentage off tickets and concessions. Cinemark in particular offers special prices to those groups – but scope out your local cinema too, to see if they do the same.
6. Second-run theaters (aka discount movie theaters)
First-run movie theaters are where you go to see a film the day it opens. But do any theaters get movies a month or so after its release?
Second-run theaters – also known as dollar movie theaters, sub-run theaters, or discount movie theaters – do exactly that. They pay less to the film studio to lease copies of a movie after its initial release. That saving gets passed on to you.
AMC purchased loads of small discount movie theaters and incorporated them into its AMC Classic brand.
My local AMC Classic theater is in Seattle, and Ghost in the Shell is on the big screen. Alright, so it looks proper dodgy, but still. That’s two months after its proper release at the time of writing, and the price of a ticket? $1.99. Seriously. Look up.
If you’re not bothered about watching a movie the first month it’s open, but would like to see it on the big screen, this is the way to go.
Find out where you nearest second-run theater is at TheDollarMovie.com.
7. Drive-in movie theaters!
Who doesn’t love the drive-in? They’re packed with loads of vintage charm, a cheeky hint of nostalgia, and that unmistakable whiff in the air from underage teenagers trying to score.Yes, they’re pretty great.
And their prices? Often A LOT lower than regular indoor theaters. This make drive-ins an affordable way to see first-run movies. They also work out as an awesome location for group hangouts and really awkward first dates.
The drive-in nearest to me (only a 45-minute drive) screens three double bills in an evening, and charges $9.75 per adult for BOTH movies.
8. Use your credit card rewards
If used wisely, your credit card can be a viable way of saving at the flicks. Most credit cards offer members perks, and discounts on movie tickets are one of them.
They’re listed as “cash back” on specific purchases. So it’s not necessarily an upfront discount. Instead you’ll receive a percentage of your ticket price back in your bank account.
9. Buy used gift cards
Most theaters offer gift cards.
When I receive one I leap up and down, not unlike a Tasmanian devil. But not everyone thinks getting a cinema gift card is cause for celebration. There are those who get a $20 Regal card from auntie for their birthday and don’t want to use it.
But there are ways to still get value from those unwanted cards. How? Sell them online.
Raise.com offers absolutely terrific deals, as does Plastic Jungle, Card Cash and Gift Card Granny on old gift cards. You can purchase pre-gifted cards – with credit on them, still, obviously– for a seriously discounted price and use those at the box office.
10. Unlimited movie pass cards
Cineworld in the UK has its unlimited pass priced at £17.40 per month. That’s $22.40 to see any movie, as many times as you like at any Cineworld movie theater, save 10% on concessions AND get sent exclusive advance screening notices.
Card holders are also extended a 25% discount at Pizza Hut, Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito’s in the UK.
Seriously, that’s a steal.
And, while I’ve yet to find anything comparable to that in the US – please, let me know in the comments below if you have! – Regal has been doing a damn fine job of the next best thing.
It offers unlimited passes for single movies.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Batman v Superman both had a special pass. This past summer, specially-designed Wonder Woman and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 cards hit the market — both of which completely sold out — that allow you to see the movie once a day while it’s on at the theater for a one-time flat fee.
The best part is that you usually earn tons of bonus points for your loyalty card too. The Guardians card cost $100 and came with 10,000 points on the Regal rewards program.
If you weren’t already completely sold: these cards are also highly collectible.
11. Buy tickets in bulk
Many movie theaters offer group discounts. It makes sense when you think about it; the theater is guaranteed a large chunk of butts on seats for a showing, so they’re happy to encourage that behaviour by knocking down the price.
If you’re planning on checking out a movie with a bunch of friends, a group from work, or your film club, buy a load of tickets all at once and a majority of chains will do you a great deal, including:
12. Take advantage of discount days
A majority of movie theaters have a bargain day. They select one specific day each week to lower their normal prices and offer massive discounts. It’s a great way for them to entice people into the theater on days that are normally quiet.
My old multiplex used to offer $5 movies for members of their loyalty club on Tuesdays. This is something that AMC now does on the exact same day, and you can bring along your AMC Stubs card for a $5.25 movie.
The cool thing is, many cinema chains don’t mind if you’re a member of their loyalty program or not. You can still reap these benefits! Why not check out the following:
13. Use reward points
Plenty of loyalty programs let you rack up extra points toward cheap movie tickets. Two of the most popular is Disney Movie Rewards and Pampers Gifts To Grow, but there are loads more if you hunt about.
14. Follow theaters on social media
Bigger chains are leaping on the social media bandwagon, and they’re eager for you to follow them.
Everyone knows a freebie or coupon is a great way to entice potential customers (or even get dates, but that’s a story for another time).
Keep your eye out on Facebook for ticket giveaways and coupon offers. Many theaters encourage you to share their posts, in order to earn additional entries into their deals.
15. Summer movies for $1
If you’re happy to see movies that aren’t new releases, summer movie programs are worth checking out.
Regal’s $1 Summer Movie Express offer rolls out at a bunch of select theaters. Two family-friendly movies are shown over two mornings at 10am: so you can either see both movies or the same one twice! Granted, they’re likely to be filled with youngsters, so prepare to have an even more exuberant cinema trip than usual.
Cinemark does something similar with its Summer Movie Clubhouse. It shows 10 G and PG-13 rated movies over 10 weeks and charges $1 admission on the day. If you purchase a punchcard online in advance it’s only $5 for all 10 movies.
16. Club membership discounts
IfIf you’re a member of a service or warehouse club, you’re eligible for loads of savings beyond the normal discounted prices.
Costco’s not just the place to buy enough nitrite-free bacon to fill a chest freezer: you can save big on movie tickets by purchasing them in packs.
Likewise, Sam’s Club and AAA have a bunch of discounts on movie tickets. Make sure to explore the benefits offered by other organizations whose cards fill up your wallet.
17. Sign up for mailing lists!
Going for a deal online is fantastic, but sometimes, the cheapest place to get a movie ticket is directly from the actual theater.
Discounts are regularly on offer at plenty of chains and independent theaters — you just have to know about them.
Enter: mailing lists.
Subscribing to a mailing list is simple. You enter your e-mail address, hit submit and whaddya know? Every week or month you receive a newsletter. And you’d better believe theaters and ticketing outlets cram those messages with some absolutely screaming deals.
18. Use cashback sites
Sites like eBates offer a super easy way to score tickets at a great price. All you do is head on over, and enter the name of the company you’re buying your tickets from.
For example, you’re about to buy your tickets through Fandango.
Instead of going to their site first, hit up eBates, search for ‘Fandango’ and it will bring up a list of cashback deals for tickets. At the time of writing, there’s 2% cashback on Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther tickets.
So how does eBates work? Every time you buy a ticket after clicking through from eBates, the company in question (Fandango, in this example), pays eBates a small commission. A percentage of that gets passed back to you by eBates.
You won’t see the saving immediately, but you’ll see it in your bank account later on.
19. Say no to 3D or IMAX
Look, I get the allure of 3D. Ha, just joking – I’m honestly not a fan. But I realise the appeal of having machetes fly out of the screen and what have you.
Thing is, if you’re not massively fussed about seeing a film in 3D then you can save a few bucks each time you buy a ticket.
Even with subscription services like MoviePass you’re not eligible to use their card to purchase 3D movie tickets.
Ditto, if you’re going to see The Last Jedi for the fifth time, maybe skip the IMAX option again. Don’t get me wrong: I love IMAX. But if we’re tightening the budget? Just say no.
20. Try out movie ticketing apps
Atom Tickets is a movie ticketing service that exists to solely make it easier for you to enjoy the whole movie experience. No, alas, there’s no dinner service. BUT, they do let you buy concessions in advance.
Sign up for a new account using the word “SQUAD” to get $5 off your first ticket.
21. Keep an eye on coupon sites
There’s plenty of places online that update their deal pages every single day, some hourly, with the latest coupons and offers to help you score a better deal on movie tickets.
SlickDeals, RetailMeNot, Savings.com, are all split into categories, and you can bet they have a movie ticket section. You can expect to find promo codes and special in-store offers (i.e buy a Blu-ray, get $5 off a movie ticket).
The desire to see movies on the big screen beats strong inside the heart of each and every film buff. And yet, that desire is often trumped by other, more pressing matters, such as eating food that’s not from a packet and paying rent.
While movie ticket prices continue to rise, there are actions you can take to work around those pesky price hikes.
As you can see, there are many ways – 21, to be exact – to snag discount movie tickets. These methods are tried and tested and should help you to see more movies on the big screen without breaking the bank.
So go forth and reap the glorious benefits! Be sure to let us know which films you’ve checked out recently.
Images: Movie Tickets by Bossco – CC BY-SA, AMC Stonebriar 24 by dallashangerphoto – CC-BY-2.0, Cineworld Bexleyheath by Ewan Munro – CC BY-SA 2.0, Modern Movie Tickets by Freepik. Worker reading news by Freepik. Cinema tickets in popcorn byFreepik
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