The average movie ticket climbed to $8.33 in the second quarter of 2014, up from $7.96 earlier this year, according to the National Association of Theater Owners. Why the price creep? Industry watchers blame big summer blockbusters like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which sold tons of tickets to expensive 3D and IMAX screenings.
Of course, in many parts of the country, an $8.33 movie sounds like a bargain. Take New York City, where it’s not unusual to pay $15 a pop for a regular flick, or $19 for 3D. But don’t let those nosebleed prices force you to settle for summer’s reality TV swill or drive you to—gasp!—go outside. Here’s how to get your movie fix for less.
Join a Club
Most of the big chains offer some sort of loyalty program. If you tend to go to a certain theater regularly, these clubs are an easy way to earn discounted or free snacks and tickets. One program that stands out: AMC Stubs, which costs $12 a year to join but lets members bypass those annoying “convenience fees” you usually pay when you buy ticket online.
Buy in Bulk
If you’re willing to commit to buying a stack of tickets (or, technically, “passes”), you can cut your price to $8 or less. Many theater chains sell bulk passes; Landmark Theaters, for instance, sells packs of 25 at $8 per ticket. Just be sure to read the fine print; passes will sometimes exclude certain theaters or types of screenings.
Wholesale clubs offer similar bulk deals and may have bargain options on a smaller scale. Recently, Sam’s Club offered a Cinemark gift card good for two adult tickets for $15.89.
Get a Discounted Gift Card
It’s pretty easy to track down cinema gift cards on eBay or card resale sites like CardCash.com and Raise. To get a quick sense of your options, try GiftCardGranny.com, which aggregates the deals offered by a variety of sites. A search for AMC Theaters, for instance, turned up 420 discounted gift cards.
Check Your Credit Card
Do you have Visa Signature card? If so, check out the deal the card company is offering through online ticket seller Fandango: two-for-one tickets to Friday shows.
Some cards also let you leverage your cinephilia for better cash back or points rewards. The US Bank Cash Plus card, for instance, will allow you to pick movies as one of your 5% cash-back categories.
Try Daily Deal Sites
While bargain sites are unpredictable, most of the big ones feature movie tickets relatively regularly. Both Groupon and Livingsocial have recently offered discounted Fandango deals.