6 Ways to Watch Movies for Less

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Young people watching movie in movie theaterAs the weather heats up and summer blockbusters hit theaters, many of us will head to an air-conditioned theater and get our movie fix. But those tickets aren’t getting any cheaper, unfortunately. According to the National Association of Theater Owners, the average movie ticket price (including premium-priced tickets) crept up to $8.38 per ticket during the second quarter of 2013, compared with $7.94 the previous quarter. If you’re in a big city, opt for a 3-D movie or choose a premium theater (like the ones that have plush leather seats and cocktail service), you’re likely paying even more per ticket.

Here’s a look at strategies for seeing movies for less.

Couple watching film with popcornBuy discounted tickets. Occasionally, you can purchase discounted movie passes through AAA, warehouse clubs or daily-deal sites like Groupon. This especially appeals to families or frequent moviegoers, because you may need to buy a block of movie passes to get the discount. Some companies offer discounted movie tickets as an employee perk. Pay attention to restrictions or expiration dates, though. Sometimes these passes aren’t valid until a week or two after the movie has come out, so you can’t always see the latest flick during opening weekend.

Look for alternate venues. Of course, multiplexes aren’t the only places to see movies. If your town has a second-run movie theater, you may be able to save money by waiting a few weeks after a movie is released. Get creative and think beyond the traditional movie theater, too. Sometimes universities, libraries or museums offer free or cheap movie screenings, so check local bulletin boards or community newspapers for scheduling information. Also look for free outdoor movies in parks or other locations during summer.

Ask about discounts. If you’re a military member, a student, a senior or a member of a union, you may be eligible for a discount at your local cinema. Never hurts to ask!

Look for free advance screenings. When movie studios want to create buzz around a new film, they’ll often schedule free advance screenings in the hope that moviegoers will enjoy the movie and tell all their friends about it. Check out AdvanceScreenings.com to find advance screenings in your area. I’ve also attended several advance screenings courtesy of Gilt City.

Go to a matinee. Seeing a movie on the Friday night it opens will cost you more than a Tuesday afternoon, so choose a weekday afternoon if you can. I’ve sometimes taken advantage of the summer Friday work schedule to enjoy a movie matinee rather than paying full price on an evening or weekend.

Join frequent moviegoer programs. Most of the big movie theater brands have loyalty programs that earn you free concessions or movie tickets by signing up for a card and frequenting that theater. If you’re loyal to an independent or art house theater, it may have a membership program that affords you special privileges, such as discounted tickets. My local nonprofit movie theater also offers its members discounts at local businesses.

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