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Let’s Go to the Movies – for Less

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Going out to the movies can be a costly pastime, but it doesn’t have to be. Of course, staying at home to watch a movie can cost, too; the Dark Knight widescreen edition Blu-ray disc retails for $54.99. For that price, I would expect Christopher Nolan to provide director’s commentary from my living room couch, but I digress.

Check out what it costs for two adults to attend a movie at local cinemas around the country, from least expensive to priciest.

Columbus, Ohio—$13
Worthington, Minnesota— $14
Belton, Missouri—$15.50
Salem, Oregon—$16
Detroit, Michigan—$16
Los Angeles, California—$20
Fort Lauderdale, Florida—$20
Washington D.C.— $21.50
Chicago, Illinois—$22
New York, New York—$25

Note: These prices do not take into account the ritualistic degradation of your wallet commonly referred to as the “concession stand.” Assuming you and your date/friend/mother would like to enjoy bottled water, the approximate price of your outing in New York jumps to $33. If each of you gets popcorn or candy as well, you are looking at roughly $41. Now the Blu-ray disc doesn’t seem so bad; at least you can make your own snacks.

Despite the fact that the government’s stimulus package does not provide for moviegoers, there is some relief out there for those willing to become savvy ticket shoppers:

1. Join Their Club
Consider signing up for a member rewards card or a cobranded movie theater credit card. The points can add up quickly: with a free AMC MovieWatcher card, you earn two points for every ticket purchased and receive a free ticket or complimentary concessions for every 10 points accrued. With the Regal Cinemas Crown Club, members are eligible for special promotional prices on concessions ($1 Candy Monday and $1 Popcorn Tuesday).

2. Matinees
Some theaters consider a matinee showing anything between noon and 4 p.m., while other theaters will consider the matinee window to be any screenings before 5 or 6 p.m. Most times you can expect to save roughly $2 per ticket or more. Many theaters offer a.m. showings at a substantial discount to lure in the unemployed and retired. At the AMC Loews Georgetown 14 in Washington, for example, an 11:10 a.m. showing of Halloween II is just $6 per ticket.

3. Join Someone Else’s
Other clubs and organizations offer movie theater discounts. For example, members of AAA can buy books of tickets and save in bulk. A National Amusements book of four costs $31, a 25 percent discount. Buy a ten-pack for Regal Entertainment shows for $67.50 and you save $40. (Clearview Cinema and AMC discounts are also available.)

Professional groups also offer discounts. According to, service members are eligible for 35 percent discounts at Loews Cineplexes: That means tickets for around $5.50 each.

4. Wait Awhile
Look to locally-owned cinemas and art house theaters for even deeper discounts. For example, West Mall Theatres in Sioux Falls, South Dakota has Transformers: Rise of the Fallen on their big screen three months after its release. All seats: $3.

5. Avoid Online Fees
Consider avoiding online ticketing Web sites. Although it can be convenient to order ahead of time, such Web sites often charge a $1 per ticket service fee. Most of the time, booking ahead is entirely unnecessary—save online ticketing for premiere screenings of big blockbuster films you know will sell out early.

How do you save at the movies?

By David Seaman for MainStreet


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