With the summer box office on a record-setting tear, more and more Americans are plunking down their hard-earned money at the movie theater — despite perpetual gripes about the cost of a movie ticket.
Yet there are several ways to really lower the price of what you pay when you want to see a new movie.
Summer movie fun for free or cheap!
AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest movie theater chain, recently announced that April, May and June represented the highest-grossing box office quarter ever in the history of the industry.
This comes at a time when the average cost of a movie ticket is now over $9 — $9.16, in fact, according to the latest numbers from the National Association of Theatre Owners.
Yet with more popular fare either new in theaters or coming soon, July looks set to be another record-setter, too!
This month’s high-profile new flicks include The First Purge (in theaters July 4); Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6); Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation and Skyscrpaer (both July 13); The Equalizer 2 and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! (both July 20); and Mission Impossible: Fallout (July 27), among others.
So if you want to save money while seeing all the latest Hollywood has to offer, give these tips a try:
Sign up for free advance screenings
Did you know there could be free movie screenings of films available to you before they reach the general public? Lions Gate is one of the entertainment companies that does this regularly.
Just go to LionsgateScreenings.com, enter your zip code to see if there are any screenings of upcoming releases near you and sign up to get your free pass.
One of our staffers saw Uncle Drew for free about a week before the comedic basketball movie hit theaters on June 29 by signing up.
Another site that gives you access to a wide-range of advance promotional screenings for free is GoFoBo.com.
Join a movie theater subscription service to see new movies on the cheap
You’ve probably heard of MoviePass and its infamous offer of a new movie every day for a flat fee of $9.95. But because of ongoing customer service problems — not to mention the fact that there’s serious doubt the money-losing service can continue to exist as a going concern — we’re not going to recommend this service to you.
Fortunately, there’s a similar startup called Sinemia that gets better reviews and looks like it has a better handle on its business model.
Sinemia gives you the chance to see one new movie a month for $4.99 as part of its entry-level subscription plan. Other tiers include a $15.99 monthly plan that gives you tickets to three new movies per month.
Now the big guys are moving in on the subscription territory, too. In June, AMC introduced its AMC Stubs loyalty program that offers subscribers three movies a week for $19.95/month.
But here’s one big difference: While Sinemia and MoviePass both work across a variety of theater chains, Stubs is proprietary and will only get you in the doors of your local AMC movie house.
Look for cereal box promotions
Another one of our staffers wants to take his children to see the upcoming film Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. During his weekly grocery shopping, he noticed LIFE cereal had a special promotion around the film and it was priced to sell as a “buy one, get one free” (BOGO) item at the supermarket.
LIFE was promoting the Hotel Transylvania film and offering $5 off per ticket with each box you bought. He bought three 18-ounce boxes at a total cost of $7.63 and got three codes for a total $15 discount on movie tickets through Fandango.
He wound up paying $7.92 for three tickets — that included the Fandango convenience fee — to see the film the day following its Friday, July 13 release!
He considers the $7.63 spent on cereal to be a wash since it will be eaten anyway.
Some theaters have first-run films for $5 on certain days
We’re aware of at least two national chains that offer first-run flicks at $5 a pop on select days during the week.
The first is Studio Movie Grill. Every Tuesday, SMG shows first-run flicks for $5 all day long. There are locations in nine states, you can see if there’s an SMG near you here.
Of course, there may be other regional or national chains that also offer discounted first-run movies. Write in to the comments section below and let us know if you know of one not mentioned here!