It’s the end of the week and you know what that means — the second installment of Filmic Friday!
There’s a lot going on in the world of film this week – the Golden Globes nominations, the start of holiday releases, the shocking and tragic break-up of Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds – but let’s save all that for another time.
Today: cheapifying the movie-going experience.
I’m sure you all know the basics – stick to matinees over evening shows, bring in your own snacks and drinks, get there extra early so that you can see all the advertisements and the behind-the-scenes First Looks and really get your money’s worth (okay, I’m not sure about this last one).
But there are some other little-known secrets that go a long way to stretching your movie-going dollar.
(1) The Entertainment Book. I’m sure you all know it – that giant book of random coupons for everything from Burger King to Sea World that you can pick up this time of year for $25 at your nearest Barnes and Noble.
Growing up, my mom always had one of these books stored under the passenger seat in the car, just in case… I began buying the book in college, specifically for the movie coupons, which vary depending on the theater chain but generally end up offering $7-$8 tickets for movies released the weekend before (or for the latest releases if the teenager selling you the tickets is either nice, apathetic, or not paying attention). Then, a few years ago, I made a fantastic discovery. If you head over to ebay, you can purchase just the movie coupons for as little as $0.99. I now spend less than $5 a year for dozens of discount movie coupons. Sometimes you can find non-Entertainment book movie coupons on ebay as well – just be sure to look at the expiration date and fine print before confirming. You may end up paying $3 for a $1-soda-with-popcorn-purchase.
Rumor has it that the Entertainment Book is changing its movie coupons this year to take into account rising ticket costs… I haven’t ventured over to ebay just yet, but I’ll keep you posted on what I find.
(2) The Non-Profit Theater. In the Philadelphia area, we have three movie theaters – the Ambler Theater, the County Theater, and the Bryn Mawr Film Institute – that all hold non-profit status. If you become a member of one of these theaters ($45 per person or $70 per couple, per year), ticket costs drop from $9 each to $4.75 each – at any of the three theaters. So, if you’re a member of Ambler, you can go to movies there or at the County or Bryn Mawr theaters, all for the member rate. These theaters generally offer high-quality independent films, hold free screenings and special events for members, and often bring in filmmakers to discuss their work. They also have less expensive and more interesting snack and drink options… because sometimes even the most seasoned moviegoers forget to bring their own.
Brent and I joined the Ambler Theater a few years ago, and we both love it. We’re supporting the local community, we’re supporting the independent film world, and, because we see so many movies there, we end up saving a fair bit. it’s a win-win-win situation. A quick google search shows that such theaters exist in and around reasonably-sized cities across the country. Looks like Michael Moore’s even getting in on the act (someday maybe I’ll write a post on my thoughts on Michael Moore’s docu-melodrama…). So check out what’s available in your area – you may be surprised!
(3) The Double Feature. This is a longstanding tradition in my family, passed down from my grandmother (come to think of it, both my grandmothers). I’m not going to say too much about it, because it’s not entirely kosher. If you’re interested in the specifics, check out this article from an inveterate movie-hopper. Let’s just say you’ll want to do your homework on synchronizing movie times, find a big ol’ anonymous multi-plex, and pack lunch or dinner.
So, there you have it – some tried-and-true tips on making the movies affordable.
Next week – Manna, Movies, and Moo Shu: the perfect Jewish Christmas.