How a frugal family can afford the movies

Ways to Save on a Family Outing to the Movies

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Ways to Save on a Family Outing to the Movies

Our family of four went to the movies this weekend for the first time in a very long time. It cost us just over $50 to see a matinee and share one large popcorn and soda. I knew ticket prices had creeped up the past few years, but I was shocked. Are there any ways a frugal family can go to the movie theater these days without killing their budget? I did check online for discounts before we went, but I did not find any.

Look for Other Movie Options

Our local natural science museum has its own little theater that plays recent "old release" movies for free with admission. Since we have a family pass membership, it's free for us to go as much as we want!

Find Movie Discounts

My hubby and I are seniors, so we call around to different theaters to find out what type of discounts they offer. AMC theaters offer discounts if you get there before a certain time. They also have a membership club that offers discounts on refreshments. Showcase Cinemas have certain days they run specials. Wednesday is discounted senior day. They also have special matinees for children. Also, because our family knows we like to see a movie now and then, they give us gift certificates for our birthdays and Christmas. Also, check online to see if your theater gives any discounts on tickets. Hope this helps.

Check Out Public Offerings

Check out your public library. Many libraries show movies at least once a week. For seniors, senior centers also show movies. In my area, a local public recreation center also shows movies every Friday with popcorn and soda for $1 each.

Other Fun Summer Evenings Out

Check your town's website for summer activities. Our town shows several recent family-friendly movies free every summer. They're shown outdoors in a park. People bring picnic blankets and snacks. With some homemade popped corn and iced tea, it is a penny-pincher's ideal evening.

Also, see if your library offers movie afternoons and evenings. Our library does this, showing either classic or independent films. Of course, your library is sure to have movies available to borrow. I was surprised to see what a large selection is available at my local library. I enjoy being able to watch at my convenience.

Watch Bulletin Boards for Free Movies

Check with your local schools, libraries, or churches. They sometimes offer free movies for family viewing. I live in a retirement park and the park nearby offers free movies every Friday, so checking the bulletin boards at retirement parks might pay off!

Start Your Movie Search Online

Go on Google to see if your favorite movie theater has savings at certain times or days. For instance, by searching "Regal Cinemas discount days," I found a link to Regal Cinema's discounts before noon at some locations and discounts all-day on Tuesdays at others near us.

Ways to Save on a Family Outing to the Movies?

Avoid Just Released Films

One way to save would be to check out discount theaters. Their ticket prices are lower because they show movies that have been out in theaters for a while, usually a month or more, but not yet out on DVD. You get the big screen experience without as much of the cost if you don't have to see the movie the week it opens.

There are more options if you aren't visiting the theater to see a just-released movie. For example, some chains have movie clubs for families. For example, one is offering a schedule of 10 movies, a different one each week, for $5 per punch card to see all 10. Visit the theater chains' websites and sign up for their email list to get discounts, concession coupons, and more.

Big Box Bonus

You could check with your local Costco or Sam's Club to see if they have discounted admissions. Our local Costco offers a gift card that includes two admissions, popcorn, and drinks at about half the normal cost, and they have a family package for four as well. I don't have a membership, but so many of my friends do that. If I know ahead we'll be going to the movies, I ask them to pick me up a card the next time they are in.

Enjoy a Drive-In Movie

We have a few drive-ins nearby that we visit. They show first run movies and kids are either free or $1. Adult ticket prices are also cheaper. A big bonus is that we can bring our own food and drinks!
Debbie in Kettering

Second Run Theaters Are the Answer

I usually wait to go to the second run theaters. The tickets are usually half price or less.

If you really want to go to the latest movies, check out perks from the theater chains. For example, Regal has a loyalty program where you earn points and get free or discounted movies, snacks, etc. Also check out the specials at the concession stand. For example, one common one is free refills on popcorn.

Of course, the best money-saver is to check out a free movie from the local library and make your own popcorn.

Take Advantage of Points Programs

Check if your debit or credit card has a points program. I've used the points from my credit card points program to get movie passes. The passes have been accepted for any movie I've wanted to use them for. It can make the movie very affordable, since all you have to buy is snacks if you feel compelled to do that.
Wendy in Charlotte, NC

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