Going to the movies is as American as catching a baseball game, but these days, catching a flick at your local theater can cost you a pretty penny. If you’re paying for your date or taking your family for a night out, high-ticket costs and concession stand prices may have you thinking twice about that must-see blockbuster.
According to the National Association of Theater Owners, as reported by the New York Times, the average cost of a movie ticket in 2011 was $7.93, which rose about 0.5 percent from $7.89 in 2010. However, if you live in a major city like New York, you’re looking at an average ticket price of $12.28, says CNBC. Multiply that by a family of four and you could be spending anywhere from $32 to $50 just on tickets alone. Never mind the popcorn, candy and soda your kids will inevitably want.
So, how do you cut costs on a movie night out? Here are three easy ways to save:
1. Join a Loyalty Program
Most theater chains have free loyalty programs that offer rewards as you rack up points. For instance, Regal’s Crown Club is free to join, and issues one point per dollar spent. You can earn free popcorn and soft drinks at 50 and 100 points, respectively, and free movie tickets once you hit 150 points. At no cost to you, these rewards programs are no-brainers. To maximize point build-up, try to stick to one theater and stack up points there. You’ll acquire free goods faster this way, rather than spreading out point earnings through multiple rewards programs.
2. Buy in Bulk
Regal Cinemas and AMC Theaters have bulk buy ticket options that could save you quite a bit in the long run. AMC offers corporate ticket bundles that work out to $6 or $7.50 per ticket, depending on the package you choose. Meanwhile, the company also has a snack voucher pack that works out to $3 for a small popcorn or small drink. If you’d like a bigger size, you can use the coupon toward the purchase of a larger snack option. Regal offers similar packages.
The corporate bundles start in packs of 50, so you’ll have to shell out $300 or more up front. If that’s not an option, or you just want to buy a few tickets in bulk, you can try sites like BulkTix.com, which offer similar vouchers at many different theaters. However, you may not save as much as with Regal and AMC’s corporate bundles.
3. Catch a Matinee
Here’s an instance when the early bird gets the worm. If you want to slash ticket prices, head to the theater before noon. Many establishments offer half-price tickets or entry at deeply discounted rates. According to Vulture, theaters only fill an average of 15 percent of their seats, so it behooves them to entice moviegoers with cheaper rates in off times. Take advantage of this, especially if you’re treating a group of people or kids to a flick. There will likely be less people in the theater, so you’ll get your pick of the best seats in the house, too.
How often do you go to the movies? What do you do to cut costs? Let us know in the comments below.