September 27, 2016

How to Save Money at the Movies

night-at-the-movies

Remember the good ol’ days when a movie ticket and large tub of popcorn cost just a few dollars?  Neither do we.  With the ever-increasing box office prices, a night out at the movies hasn’t been a cheap endeavor for some time.  We compiled a few tips that can help Utah moviegoers save a few extra dollars on their next trip to the cinema.

1)   Bargain days

Many of the large multi-plex theaters, such as Megaplex and Cinemark, offer discounted Tuesdays where the matinee prices run all day.  There are some exclusions to this, such as 3D, IMAX, VIP or dBox, but for a family night out, it’s a great way to save.  Also, the Megaplex features weekday $5 food court specials.

2)   Join a rewards program

The Megaplex theater chain has recently introduced a rewards program for its frequent customers.  It’s surprisingly simple and effective.  Not to mention free.  Points are matched per dollar spent at the box office or concession stand.  It’s set up to earn a reward every 25 points–$25 is less than the average movie date, to keep things in perspective.  Prizes range from coupons such as a dollar off concessions, some are freebies like a free drink, popcorn, and even movie tickets.  To check out the prize breakdown, visit Megplex’s website.  

Cinemark has a weekly rewards email that includes concession coupons, special offers, and such. Visit Cinemark’s website to learn more.

3)   Find cheaper theaters

Dollar theaters still exist.  In fact, Cinemark owns several local ones that feature 3D releases (for an additional dollar premium).  You won’t see the movie opening day, but some movies are worth the wait.

There are also a few value theaters, such as the Carmike 12 in West Jordan, that charge around $5.00 for evening showings.  Be warned, these theaters supplement by adding extra costs to their concessions.  But if a movie is all you want, these places are for you.

And when the warmer months are in gear, drive-in theaters offer double-features at lower prices. At the Redwood Drive-In, adult tickets are $7, kids are $1.

4)   Buy tickets at the box office

Purchasing tickets online in advance is great and very convenient, but like a lot of things that fall into the convenient category, there’s a lovely convenience fee that goes along with your purchase.  Buying tickets on the internet usually costs upwards of a dollar extra per ticket.  With so many large theater chains employing ticket kiosks to reduce long lines, buying in advance only makes sense if you’re buying weeks ahead of time to a movie you’re dying to see.

5)   Hit the store

Stores such as Sam’s Club or Costco often sell movie tickets at discounted prices.  So do several grocery stores and gas stations.  Next time you’re at the market or filling up your gas tank, ask customer service about discounted tickets.

6)   Check the internet for deals

People often sell their movie vouchers or gift certificates on sites such as Craigslist or KSL at prices much lower than retail… though we only recommend this as cautious optimists.  Free concession vouchers are also fairly common.

Sites such as Groupon offer several two-for-one deals and other savings.  Just be sure to double check the participating locations.

7)   Find sneak preview passes

Free passes to advanced showings are more readily available than you think.  Many radio stations and print publications hand out these by the dozens.  In fact, Utah Stories regularly features contests to win movie passes to early screenings of all the big blockbuster movies right on our homepage.  Other sites like The Reel Place give away passes weekly.  GOFOBO is a great site to sign up to receive passes as well.

Remember, these are free, but you are usually limited to two passes per account.  Always show up early to these advanced showings since they’re often overbooked to ensure a full house, but at that price, you can afford the risk.

Have any other tips to save money at the theater?  Share them below.