10 Common Sense Money Saving Tips For Movie Fans

Money-SaversWhen you sit back and actually start to add up all the money you spend on movies (I don’t recommend you do this… you’ll only end up being depressed) and include all the little hidden expenses as well, the total can be staggering. So anyway, the other day I started making up this list of just simple common sense ways that I can save money as a movie fan.

There is nothing revolutionary on this list… but it’s funny how sometimes the most obvious ideas are the ones we overlook. And sometimes we dismiss the smallest little savings and fail to really think about how they add up.

Anyway, I did my list for myself and thought I’d add a couple of more and make a post out of it. We’re going to assume for the sake of this list that you go to a movie once a week and rent 1 dvd a week (obviously that number will be either higher or lower for you, but this will be our measure point). So here are my 10 common sense money saving tips for movie fans:

1) Eat before going to the theater (Savings – $20/ month if skipped twice)
This is one of the biggest money savers on the list. As much as I complain about the price of a ticket at the theaters, I usually walk in and spend MORE at the concession stand. I LOVE having popcorn and pop when I’m at the movies, and usually the only way I can stop myself from buying that $13 “special” is if I just recently ate. Even if you just skip the popcorn twice a month, you end up saving a TON.

2) Choose your theater wisely (Savings – $9/month if you choose smaller twice)
If you’re like me, you want to see Transformers, or Indiana Jones or other films of that nature on the biggest and best screen with the best sound possible. That generally means going to the best theater in your area and spending a little bit more on your tickets. Fair enough. But then there are those other movies, like Gone Baby Gone or The Departed that… and let’s be honest… don’t require the biggest and best screen and sound to enjoy. In my case, there is a slightly smaller theater up the street from me that charges $6.50 for a ticket. The better theater charges $11. By going to the smaller and older theater for those films that don’t really require the biggest and best screen and sound I save roughly $4.50 per movie.

3) Join Netflix or Zip (Savings – Roughly $15/month)
i don’t rent TONS of movies since I basically see most of them in theater, but I’d say once a week would just about be right. At my local Blockbuster, after taxes, for a new release… I’m paying just about $6/movie. But with a service like Netflix (Or Zip.Ca for those of us in Canada) you can get a simple cheap plan (like $9/month) that gives you 1 disk at a time. You can EASILY go through 4 or more movies a month and you never have late fees.

4) Celebrate Matinees (Savings – $6/month for going twice)
Running to the movies is generally a social evening thing to do, but really, why not try to hit a matinee a couple of times? You’ll generally find most theaters charge less for the tickets, and hell… then you still have your whole day in front of you. You’ll get smaller crowds, fewer noisy teenagers… and it’s cheaper (I know I already said that… but that’s the point). My local Cineplex charges $11 regular, and about $8 for a matinee.

5) Hold Off On HD (Savings – A lot)
New technology is always far more expensive then it will be next year. HD players and systems have already come down a lot in price, but in another year they’ll be exponentially cheaper than now. There is no need to go to HD right now, all movies still come out on beautiful DVD, and let’s face it, the difference between good quality DVD and HD isn’t anywhere near the difference of the old VHS to DVD comparisons. If you MUST have it now and want to bust the bank… go for it. Me, I’m waiting at LEAST another year (or until they come up with 1 standard HD format… whichever comes later)

6) Consult The Movie Blog or RottenTomatoes (Savings – up to $25/month)
Everybody likes to say “I never listen to critics” but to one degree or another we all do. Just because the critics hate a movie doesn’t mean you will. Only YOU know YOUR tastes and choices. HOWEVER…. it’s a pretty good bet (although not 100%) if 90% of the critics or members of the online community (like The Movie Blog commenters) are all trashing a movie and talking about how much they hated it… then maybe… just maybe… you might want to reconsider spending your money on that particular movie right now. You avoid one bad movie a month, that saves you your ticket price and popcorn. not bad.

7) Watch A Favorite Again (Savings – $6/month)
I can’t believe how many DVDs some of my friends have, and yet they hardly ever watch any of them. It’s crazy! So listen, some night when you and your girl/guy are hanging at home and you want to rent a movie… try just pulling out of of the faithful favorites you’ve got in your collection (no matter how big or small). You’ll rediscover your love for that movie, you know you’ll enjoy it, and you just saved a rental.

8) Buy Previously Viewed (Savings – $20)
DVD aren’t fruit that suddenly go bad or used underwear that someone else’s “boys” have been hanging around in. A new DVD can run you up to $30, but when I want to buy a movie, I just head to Blockbuster and go to the previously viewed section. On average I spend about $8 per movie. Buying it then also leads to more savings via point #7. I promise the movie will look just as good and sound just as clear as it would if you had bought the $25 still in its shrink wrap copy.

9) Wait For It On DVD
There are some movies that you just MUST see on the big screen, or great films you want to see when it’s in theaters. But sometimes there are movies that you think you want to see… but you’re not really all that excited about it. For those movies, I would suggest just waiting for it to come out on DVD. You’ll save your ticket costs, popcorn costs, gas, yadda yadda yadda. And if you have Zip.ca or Netflix, you save even more. In a movie theater is still the best way to see a movie… but if you’re a little ify on a film, just wait for it. Movies are coming out on DVD now faster and faster and faster. You probably only have to wait 3 or 4 months to get your hands on it.

And finally the biggest cost saver of them all


So there you have it folks. 10 simple common sense ways to save money as a film fan without giving up the movies. Man it sure does add up. And dear lord I hope you’re smart enough to know I’m just kidding about point #10… the 10th point if for you guys to share.

So jump into the comments section and let us know one or two of your insightful ways to save money for movie fans without giving up on the movies. I’ll take the best 10 suggestions in the comments section and make another post out of it this weekend. Go to it!

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75 thoughts on “10 Common Sense Money Saving Tips For Movie Fans

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  2. Public and university libraries are starting to develop hugh DVD collections (some even have VHS and lazerdisc). All you need is a library card and you can watch for free. You may not get all the new releases you want, but its a good way to catch up on older fair.

  3. A Trip to the movies with a kid:
    Fill their bellies before you go… because, as parents know, they have bottomless stomachs and will still want food when they get there.

    Have them look forward to getting that 1 special food treat that they can’t or don’t get anywhere else.

    Only see those movies that are really worth seeing in the theatre… all others are DVD worthy. I make a plan to go when there’s a really good 3D movie out in theatres. And there are only so many of those a year and they are worth twice the money for the experience!

  4. I think that eating before the movie theatre is definately a good thing, becasue the food there is so expensive. A good way to save money is to get your girlfriend to bring a big purse, and you can fill it with sandwiches, chips, candy, even drinks.My boyfriend and I do it all the time and it always works. They never question you because girls usually carry purses! Im tellin you it definately saves you money.

  5. Great tips. I don’t know about eating before the movies cause I love to eat munchies while I watch a good flick.

    The AMC’s in So Cal let you bring in Taco Bell. I always stop by and get a few tacos and an extra large coke prior to going in. Save’s me a ton especially when I’m bringing all the kids.


    Your Blu Ray Fanatic

  6. Great list! The best is #6. Read what critics and online audiences have to say! And don’t necessarily go along with every positive and negative review. Sometimes negative reviews are written in such a way that I say, “Hmm, it sounds like the aspect of the movie that person didn’t like is the very thing that would make me want to see it!” For example, before I watched “A Clockwork Orange” (now my favorite film), I heard a lot of great reviews, but also some bad reviews from people who were just too disturbed and offended by the film. My Mom said one of her coworkers told her NEVER to watch the movie. But I looked at all the negative reviews and said to myself, “Hmm, not one person has said the movie was boring! Hardly anyone has said it was stupid. It’s just a bunch of people saying they were too disturbed or too offended. Meanwhile, all the positive reviews are saying it’s the best film of all time, wildly imaginative, and scarily visionary. No brainer! I must see that movie!”

    #10 is pretty funny. :D I paid for my girlfriend when we went to the movies, simply because I love movies so much and I’m glad to pay. But sometimes she insisted on paying for herself at restaurants (only sometimes, though). One of my sisters says that, with her and boys, sometimes he pays, sometimes they go dutch, and sometimes she pays. It’s a rather interesting concept: old-fashioned chivalry meets female independence. Which wins out?

  7. Well, considering all the tips that you have told us, is better to follow them its the only way you can save money in movies. But I think that number 1 is one of the best because you spend more money when you are into the cinema, they have high prices there. Also number 6 can help you find the best movie.

  8. call me old fashioned, but I think it’s a curtesy for the guy to pay.
    at least the admission anyway.
    have one person pay for admission the other buys popcorn/drinks.
    it’s fair.
    or alternate who pays.

  9. Go to CVS and buy candy… Mike & Ikes cost 1.29 versus the $3.50 the theaters charge you.

    Also, skip the popcorn all together… it’s very unhealthy for you!

  10. Usually colleges sell movie tickets for $8/a gold ticket (see any movie you like) or $6/a silver ticket for any movie that is 2 weeks or older. You could buy it for Regal or AMC. I get my movie tickets at work for $7.5/a gold ticket and enjoy the movies in the a nice theather with a big screen.

  11. Another tip not mentioned is taking advantage of the local public libraries. At my local branch, you can get up to 6 DVDs for a week and it doesn’t cost anything extra. There may be a wait for new releases, but between Netflix and there, I haven’t paid anything out of pocket for a movie in a while.

  12. I’ll pay my own way whenever I can. I am so poor right now, 1 year post college that I don’t know where the $ will come from. Its only fair if the guy can also pay for himself if the girl is going to paying for him. The decision must be made ahead of time although too many real men like to pay for the girl. If a girl wants to pay for herself, why is that such a big deal anyway? Its only fair if both parties manage to pay for themselves. I will start sneaking in my own food. Another cool trick though is to continue using your student ID. (long after you’ve stopped being a student).


  13. It’s probably the same in US, but in Australia the Popcorn and Coke combo is more expensive than the bloody movie.

    Australia has a Tight ass Tuesday where it’s about 6 buck off the movie.

    If your lucky some megaplex’s dont’ have many staff so you can cinema hop from movie to movie all day and night.
    If you time it right you can see about 5 movies… Just remember to bring your fake moustache and wig when walking out at the end of the day, and bring some lunch….

    Of course it is totaly illegal and you will be robbing artists of their rightfull income so…. dont get caught !!!!

  14. A few years ago I was catching up on a lot of movies (A LOT!), because instead of renting videos I was just buying up all the ex-rentals VHS movies, because video rental places were replacing everything with DVD, so they were selling tables and tables of movies at $2 each (Australian dollar). I now have a wall of VHS tapes at home… last month my VCR broke, bad timing too as I was really in the mood for watching ‘Arachnid’ again :-(

  15. Someone mentioned AMC allowing outside food…

    I went to Wehrenberg to see Indy 4 and was in line at the very beginning, and TONS of people were bringing in drinks and food to eat while in line…no one stopped us. I think they have a sign up saying “no outside food” etc. etc. but I’m not absolutely positive…but I guess they figured they wouldn’t chance pissing off all the people in line. haha

  16. 1) One thing that works for me is to make a note of which theaters have the stuff I want, good popcorn, great deals, etc. I used to confuse which theater had the good salty popcorn and which one had the crappy dry stuff that just got stuck to your teeth. You make a note of it, you know which one to bring food to in the future and which one is worth shelling out a few bucks.

    3) For some reason, Netflix takes a week to get a new movie to me, so I only use it if I need to get something the local shops don’t have. There’s a Hollywood Video near me and I signed up for their MVP plan so you can rent two movies, keep them as long as you want, etc. It’s a bit pricey ($25 a month), but if I make sure to watch the movies as soon as possible and depending on my schedule, I can see almost thirty movies a month and save two or three times what I’d normally spend. As of today, I’m working on my 115th movie of 2008.

    4) One of the best times I’ve ever had at the movies was skipping school to see ‘The Incredibles’ in the middle of the day. It was the first time I’d seen a Pixar movie in theaters (shaddup, I was skeptical of the hype before I learned my lesson), and it honest to God felt like a roller coaster the whole time. I didn’t have as much fun until The Simpsons Movie (because I saw it at Comic Con so the theater was like a rock concert) and Transformers (BECAUSE IT WAS FUCKING AWESOME!! :D) It’s definitely worth it if you want to see something small, but I’m totally game for evening and early nerd specials for audience movies.

  17. Roger Ebert taught me that AMC Theatres allow you to bring in outside food or drink–they just don’t advertise it. Since then, I’ve walked right in the front door carrying McDonald’s sacks, 200-ounce sodas purchased from the gas station across the street (for $1.49), boxes of Cheerios (healthier than popcorn) and whatever else I can think of. Nobody’s ever stopped me. It’s a huge-money saver if you’re a person who likes to nibble during the movie.

  18. Great tips but what do you know – almost none of that applies to me. I don’t get to see half the new movies I want to b/c the single theater left in town doesn’t bring in limited releases. (That’s what I want to see, damn it!) And if I want to save against the $9.95/ticket rate, I have to drive 40 miles return, just to get a $6.95 rate. Factor time and gas, and I’d rather stay put and pay $9.95. Or there IS a small repertory theater, but I have to wait many months for a film, and even with a membership, pay something like $8.

    But there might be some promo programs to look for. Canada has “Scene.ca”, where you get a member card. You accumulate 10 points per dollar, and save on concession items. Still expensive, but a bit better.

  19. One thing that has made my movie going this years cheaper is working at the movie theater. I saying if you like the movies so much maybe you might want to sever popcorn to people on the weekend and watch free movies during the week or visa versa. A movie theater job is also a good job for people still in high school. 1. You can see free movies on the biggest screens (and most theaters will let you bring one guest for free) 2. Making money so now dinner and a movie is basically free because you will be making money to pay for dinner and the movie is free. DVD seem cheaper because of the money you will be making.

  20. 1)that’s a good idea. I’ll try it noe everytime I’ll go to see movies.
    4)Actually, I went twice after school (14:00) and the price was kind of the same as a matinee.

  21. One slight problem with #4! In some areas of the USA, like Idaho(where I live) we do not have movies showing all day. We only get them on Saturday and 1 weekday during the summer. So unless you get every Saturday off, you cannot see movies cheap!! Unless you wait 2-3 weeks and hope it’s cheap on Tuesday nights!! Other than that I have to wait for a lot of these movies to come out on DVD!! People in the big city should be thankful that movies are shown all day everyday!! Some of us in the USA are’nt as lucky as you!!

  22. My biggest expense is buying dvd’s. I love it, but in the long run, when am i going to watch them all, and if HD becomes the new standard format, what do i do with all my old dvd’s? This HD thing sucks. I would only like it if I could trade all my old dvds for new HD versions, even if at a small cost, or I will have to buy them all again on HD, and I am in highschool, where am i supposed to get the money from! Gosh, luckily I have a rewards card, so going to the theater costs me $2 everytime. Screw the food at movies, it is too expensive and I never finish the popcorn and if I buy something to drink, I always need to go to the bathroom at the best parts in the film!! (Over share on the info, sorry*).

  23. Last time I sneaked into movies was back in 1990. “Gremlins 2: The New Batch”, “Flatliners”, “Ghost”, “Die Hard 2″… ahh, those were good times.

    (A friend and I had to use the Exit door, though, when we were sprung in another screening of “Gremlins 2”. Darn.)

  24. I can’t believe no one’s mentioned sneaking in… I’d say at least half of all theaters have an exit door that you can sneak your friend in, or vice versa. The only problem is you can only do this in pairs to avoid paying for one ticket. Or there’s the really advanced way where you buy a ticket, go stick some napkins in the exit door, then go back and refund your ticket (tell them you forgot you have a dentist appointment or something) and then go around and in the door you jammed the latch on. But you have to be a real cheap bastard to do that whole ringamarole.

  25. When I used to go to the theater to watch movies, I’d take in a backpack stuffed with cold cans of softdrink and bags of chips and chocolate bars. (I guess this was before the days when they do bag-checks to look for video cameras.)

    Now I’m purely a DVD-renter. It only takes a couple of months for a new release to get to disc, and then I rent it for $1 buck. Then I have a personal movie library of favorites (top fav: Raiders of the Lost Ark).

    As for the next-gen disc formats, I’m going to see what the situation is this time next year. DVD is plenty good enough (though HD TV progs look impressive). Blu-Ray? HD-DVD? Who knows. VHS was standard. Then DVD. “There can be only one!” :)

  26. hey, has anyone here ever heard of libraries? you know, those places that lend books for free? they’ve got tons of good movies. we watch movies from the library all the time and there’s usually not much time delay from the release of DVDs. over the last year we’ve probably spent what most of you do in a week by the sound of it. wanna watch it again, borrow it again! heck, we even do searches and put holds on movies we’re interested in and they’re there waiting for us on the next visit. hopefully they’ll send them to our mailbox for free soon too! they could call it libflix. ;)

  27. I always pay student prices or go to the rush hour shows which are 4.50-5.50 a piece, depending on which theater I go to.

    I almost NEVER casually go to see movies in the theater, only if they’re something I MUST SEE IMMEDIATELY.

    I rent like crazy, though I should switch to Netflix or Blockbuster Online to save even more money.

    I NEVER buy food at the theater, except water which is 4 bucks because I get thirsty.

    And finally, something John forgot to mention – THEATER HOP.

  28. John, why the fuck should we have to change to make the movie going experience better ha ha?

    Personally, if my cinema establishment included assinged seating, always courteous staff who know anything about movies, zero tolerance on noise, and general respect for the customer, i would feel that the prices i paid were worth it.

    As for DVD’s; i’m an addict and that’s never going to change so i don’t worry about how much i spend. In the UK, rental prices at Blockbuster are so high now that you really are better just buying the damn movie if you’re reasonably sure you’ll enjoy it.

  29. My dad taught me to buy my candy and soda at Walgreens before the movie starts. Right now at Walgreens the same exact movie candy (yes the same exact size too) goes for a $1. I don’t like popcorn too much I’m more of a nachos fan.

  30. Hey Tracey,

    From the post:

    “And dear lord I hope you’re smart enough to know I’m just kidding about point #10… the 10th point if for you guys to share.”

    It was a joke, thrown in for shock value.

  31. For a site that was up in arms about the treatment of women so recently, “bitch” really doesn’t seem to be the appropriate term. Your sexist vocabulary and views really doesn’t endear you to anyone, and you could have easily said “Let your date pay their own way” and avoided looking like a complete jackass.

  32. I went from going to the movies, to buying/renting tons of DVD in early 2000, now Im on the movies channel, it takes a little longer but its to see the same crap anymway. Also I get to have HD movie channel. Hd is not available in movie theater, and I will not buy Hd DVd until they make up their minds about format.

    ps: Im a bitch who pays her own way, you see, I have a job. And I decide for myself if Im going to sleep with a man, no need to buy me.

  33. Hey Jack-O

    You said:

    “I don’t think you need all those rules, because really just #9 is the only one you need”

    I totally respect your point of view, but I’ve got to disagree completely. Movies are best experienced in a movie theater with a movie audience. There is something special about it… it’s how they were meant to be seen, and for my money, it’s still the very best way to experience a film.

  34. I don’t think you need all those rules, because really just #9 is the only one you need to save the most money.

    #9 would be #1 and that’s all you need. In today’s market, you don’t need to wait long before a movie comes to DVD. I would just change this rule slightly though, avoid the theaters and only rent/buy the DVDs. You will save a lot of money. I don’t see much of a difference from watching a movie in theaters and home, you’re pretty much getting the same movie. Also, you don’t need to spend money on theater food, parking, and all those extra expenses.

  35. Share your dvds. Lending and borrowing not only saves money, but is a great way to learn more about your friends tastes and share your with others.

    That’s one of the reasons I have a huge collection. I LOVE to send one of my favorites home with someone and then talk about the movie when they return it.

  36. That shit’s funny Josh. Your post made me laugh. Shit, the last the time I heard someone mention manatee was on a trip to Florida about 8 years ago.

  37. John, I pretty much agree with everything, except #6. I’ve never really subscribed to the statement “We watched it for you so you don’t have to.” It’s like allowing other people to think for me and make my decisions for me. I have my own brain, I can think for myself, I can decide for myself. You might think I’m wasting money, but I’m wasting… and throwing away something even more important and fundamental when I throw away that right to think for myself. If a movie is bad, then let me decide for myself. More than once a universally trashed movie is something I found quite enjoyable.

    A few others in the list aren’t really applicable where I am but I’m pretty much OK with everything else.

  38. Rotten Tomatoes is great, it’s allowed me to avoid my share of stinkers.

    #11. Start up a movie/TV site that earns a bit of money so that you can write off movie tickets, satellite TV, DVD purchases and rentals, movie collectibles, etc. :-)


  39. Great list. After Spider-Man 3 (which I got the tickets pretty cheap), it really hurted my interest for seeing Pirates 3. So I followed rule #9, since I wanted to see Pirates 2 in theaters and ended up following rule #9.

    Useful tips for next year.

  40. 11. Browse around The Pirate Bay and save yourself what you would have paid for the ticket. [I don’t condone piracy btw but it’s a heck of a money-saver].

  41. 1) I sneak my food in.
    2) My theater charges $6.50.
    3) I don’t rent at all.
    4) I try to do matinees 90% of the time.
    5) Here here!
    6) Done.
    7) Done.
    8) Nope. I shop at Best Buy,and they don’t offer that.
    9) Or wait for divx.
    10) I’m not a BITCH, but I certainly pay my own way. I don’t get why women enjoy having men pay for them. Don’t they feel worthless, not being able to pay their own way? Having a guy spend a bunch of money on you all night long in the hope of nailing you…sounds like prostitution to me. Pay your own way, ladies.

  42. Great list. I especially liked #10. I really only go to matinees and only pay $4.20. No concessions or anything. SO 1 movie each week is less than $20 a month, pretty good deal.

  43. Everything I agree with but #6. I don’t consult Rotten Tomatoes (after all, if one doesn’t listen to critics, what is the point?) and that ‘other’ site?

    I pay little attention to them jokers at all.
    Who are they again?


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