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Have you cut back on going to the movies because of the ticket prices? I don't blame you for not wanting to pay anywhere between $8-13 just for a regular evening show. You don't have to give up seeing new releases to save money. Here are some ways to see that movie for less.


A few weeks ago my husband and I saw Real Steel before the official opening by going to a screening. We attended this screening thanks to a media invitation, but there were hundreds of other people who took advantage of free seats.

The studio doesn't want the experience at screenings to include the audience reaction and will fill the theater with press first and then non-press afterwards. You can sign up for screenings in your city at various websites including Film Metro and gofobo.

A word of warning is to go early. More passes are awarded than there are seats so if you really want to see the movie go at least an hour early.


We've been fans of the matinee shows because the prices are lower, the crowds are lighter and we're not too tired! Many theaters not only have lower prices before 4-6 pm, but they also may offer an additional discount for the first showing of the day.

Check the price structures of your local movie houses.

Discount Tickets

Most theater chains sell discounted tickets to groups. You can buy these through work, a warehouse club or the entertainment book. I've found the price to be comparable to matinee fees but you get to go to the evening show!

Sometimes you may have to mail in for the discounted tickets as well so this option requires advance planning.


We recently received two movie tickets just for drinking coke products and entering codes online. One of the rewards available from my credit card is gift cards to a national movie chain. Swagbucks can be redeemed for a gift card to Fandango.

These are just three ways you can see free movies from some type of reward program. You may already be building points that can earn you a free movie seat.

Daily Deal Sites

Websites that sell one deal a day offer discounted movie tickets usually at least 50% their regular price. Sometimes they're packaged with refreshments. You are usually limited in the number of tickets that can be purchased and there is an expiration date if not used.

We've taken advantage of this several times and are happy to get two tickets, a popcorn and soda for $15. If you don't normally buy food then it might not be as good a deal.

Getting tickets for free or half price means you don't have to miss the latest installment of your favorite movie. How do you save money at the movies?

photo: by gailf548

About Kay Lynn

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13 comments add your comment

  1. I do the Coke Rewards, too. (These make good Christmas gifts, incidentally.)
    When I buy the Entertainment Book I wait until it goes on sale (starting in summer). Last year I took advantage of a 30% rebate plus free shipping and some free cards through the Mr. Rebates cash-back site; wound up paying $9.60 for the book, including the rebate.
    And….You can buy movie theater gift cards through discounted gift card sites. I’ve gotten up to a 20% discount. Go to the discounted gift card aggregator and type in the name of your local theater chain; the aggregator will tell you which secondary market sites have gift cards.
    The results include eBay; you may or may not get a better deal that way, so curb the urge to keep bidding if your savings would be less than going through a secondary market.

  2. I dig a large popcorn bucket out of the garbage and then go get a refill. Usually you can find one on the top of the bin that doesn’t have chewed up gum inside of it.

    Just remember to check the bottom for a black sharpie mark. That’s how they keep track of if someone already got a refill.

    (Honestly – I know this is really gross – but I actually did do it back in college)

    • Never thought about that, but I can understand a college student doing so to stretch their money.

      Our favorite theatre does give free refills for popcorn and soda, but only if you buy the very large size. Probably because most people won’t get refills.

  3. I bought group discount movie tickets for $6 each. Even Senior tickets are $9.75 in Los Angeles. A regular (adult) ticket is nearing $12.

    • Krantcents, LA prices are quite a bit higher than here in San Diego. With advance planning, the group discount tickets seem like the best deal.

  4. So many great tips – my husband and I are getting back into watching movies so we’ll be using your advice. Any recommendations on current or upcoming movies? I haven’t seen any ‘must-see’ movies right now.

    • I think the must-see movies will be released closer to the holidays. There are usually a few good ones out for Thanksgiving when everyone’s off for several days.

  5. I haven’t done this yet, but I’ve considered buy a flat screen tv… good for a variety of reasons. In the meantime, I just stay home, eat popcorn, and splurge! Oh, and get two movies :)

    • We definitely rent movies and watch them at home most of the time. But I enjoy seeing films on the big screen. Nothing replaces that experience; especially for action movies.