Movie Tickets: 5 Ways to Get 'Em Cheaper

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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, Minn. — $14
  • Belton, Mo. — $15.50
  • Salem, Ore. — $16
  • Detroit — $16
  • Los Angeles — $20
  • Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — $20
  • Washington — $21.50
  • Chicago — $22
  • 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 moviegoers are not provided for in the government’s stimulus package, there is some relief out there for those willing to become savvy ticket shoppers:

1. 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.


2. Join Their Club

Consider signing up for a member rewards card or a co-branded 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) (Stock Quote: RGC).

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% discount. Buy a 10-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 Military.com, service members are eligible for 35% 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, S.D., 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?

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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