How to Save Money at the Movie Theaters this Summer

It’s that time of year when all of the really awesome movies come out.  From the much anticipated Avengers: Infinity War to Solo: A Star Wars Story, if you are like most movie lovers, you want to see all of the big movies up on the screen.

But the thing you may not like are the ticket prices.

MoviePass – Not Such a Smart Investment

In the past, I promoted MoviePass as your way to save the most money when you go to the movies.  But they made a big mistake last year when they decided to drop the membership price down to $10/month.  While anyone can see this is an awesome deal, the movie theaters did not.

When I went to my local theater, the manager told me they no longer accepted MoviePass, even though the app listed the theater as a ‘participating’ theater.  The reason why had more to do with the theater not getting the money and the business model of MoviePass did not allow mom and pop style theaters to survive.

It did not stop there.  AMC 25 in New York City would not give me AMC Stubs credit for the movies I purchased using MoviePass.  Then they started marking my ticket MP when I purchased tickets.  I knew something was up.

A couple of months later, MoviePass released their new terms, which meant that all of the theaters that did not want to be part of MoviePass were taken off of the app and the theaters stopped taking MoviePass.  While MoviePass would like to say that it was their decision to do that, it was the theaters that asked them (via a lawsuit) to be removed from their program.

Based on the news reports of MoviePass’s current financial situation, they are losing millions and unless they have a turnaround with investors, plan on this ‘good idea’ failing soon…as in, it won’t last the year.  Most financial analysts give it 3 months max.

MoviePass should have kept the membership the way it was.  It was the $10/month deal that pissed off the theaters and brought this ‘too good to be true’ deal to an untimely end.  For those who still have MoviePass and can use it, enjoy it while it lasts.

Life After MoviePass

Knowing that AMC was going to lose a lot of their loyal moviegoers after many (not all) of the theaters stopped accepting MoviePass , they devised a new plan.

If you are an AMC Stubs member, you can now get movie tickets every Tuesday for $5.  Becoming an AMC Stubs Premiere member has its rewards.  For every dollar you spend, you receive 100 points.  You can use those points towards movie tickets and concessions.  The points add up very quickly.

Also, being an AMC Stubs Premiere member means you have VIP status.  There are separate lines at the ticket counter and at concessions for Premiere members.  That long line…I can’t tell you how many times I bypassed that line and was the next person served.

On days like Tuesdays, you are better off purchasing your $5 ticket directly through the AMC Theatres app, because even the VIP line becomes extremely long.  Purchasing through the app means you go directly to the ticket taker.  Show them your ticket on your device and you are on your way.  [I like simplicity.  And if you’ve been in NYC as long as I have, you really hate lines.]

So if you are looking to take your family of 4 to the movies, consider an AMC Stubs Premiere membership.  Make Tuesdays movie night.  Tickets for the four of you will cost $20.  And always be on the lookout for concessions deals on the app or on their website.  [For instance, right now, teens can get a Frostee + bag of popcorn for $5 when they show their student ID.] [Note: There are two AMC Stubs memberships: Insider and Premiere.  Insider is free, but not worth it.  The Premiere membership is usually around $15/year, and they do sales on the membership often to entice you to keep renewing (as of this writing the membership is 20% off, i.e. $11.99).  Premiere members get free passes to advanced movie screenings 3-6 times a year.  They also have VIP status.  Trust me when I say the VIP status is everything.  You also earn points faster.  100 points for every dollar versus 20 points for every dollar spent as an Insider.  Generally, I get my money back from the membership in a couple of months or less (if I go to the movies on a weekly basis).  The Premiere membership is totally worth it.]

To Save Even More

Every now and again, Groupon and other discount sites offer movie gift certificates at a discounted price.  When you see your movie chain being offered, purchase it!

The best way to make sure you get notifications for these special deals is to download the Groupon app or sign up online.  I usually receive an email or a notification when these deals go live.

Also, check to see if your workplace offers perks like Plum Benefits or Perks at Work.  These websites offer businesses special corporate discounts for many things, especially movie tickets.  For sites like Perks at Work, you can earn WOW Points that can be used as currency towards future purchases.

For most movie chains that use apps, you can easily upload the gift certificate information to the app.  That makes purchasing movie tickets so much easier.

Disney Movie Rewards

If you are not a Disney Movie Rewards member yet, sign up.  I know most of you reading this will probably go to a Marvel or Star Wars movie.  Disney owns the rights to both.  So why not rack up points every time you go?

When you head to the movies, keep your ticket stub and upload it to Disney Movie Rewards to get points to use towards either Disney related merchandise or gift certificates for movie concessions, movie tickets or Starbucks.

For a family of 4, that’s around 300 points each time you go to a Disney/Marvel/Star Wars movie.  Currently, it’s 550 points for a $5 concession certificate and 1100 points for a $10 movie certificate.

And don’t forget to read their email newsletter.  They always give away a few free points in the newsletter every single month.  Every point counts.

Also, as an added bonus, if you have a Regal Crown Card, you can connect your account to Disney Movie Rewards for extra points.

Go Local

For those who have access to local non-chain movie theaters, please go.  Sure, it is not like the experience you will get from the big chain theaters, but they will offer cheaper prices.

For instance, my local movie theater only charges $8 for movie tickets.  Concessions are half the price as the chain theater.  Because I go so much, the manager usually comps tickets for me every now and again.  If I’m the only person in the theater and I am late, he will restart the movie for me.

There are less previews and ads prior to the movie (usually only one preview and then the movie begins).  One movie preview is so much better than sitting through 20 minutes of previews.  Yes, the previews in the chain theaters run for 20 minutes now.

What I love about local movie theaters is that you are giving back to the community when you choose to go local.  Not only are you saving money, but you are also keeping a neighborhood icon alive.  Trust me, you will miss it when it closes down.  That’s why you need to help keep these local businesses alive.

Movie Deals

Always check out your favorite movie theater’s website for deals.  Many theaters do special family deals during the summer.

For instance, all summer long, participating Regal Cinemas theaters offer $1 movies at 10:00AM on the weekends.  Most of the movies are already out on DVD or television, but this is a good way to get the kids out and into some air conditioning surrounded by other kids for a couple of hours.

There are a lot of movie chains all across America that offer these little programs.  Just check their website.  Some offer special ticket discounts on certain days.  Others offer discounts on concessions.

I haven’t paid $16+ for a movie ticket in a very long time.  I find every avenue I can to go at a cheap price.  The discounts are out there.  You just have to know where to look.