When it’s hotter than Satan’s asshole outside, you crave sweet relief inside a cold, dark room with air conditioning. And there’s no better place to dry your sweaty body than inside a movie theater. But paying full price for a movie ticket—which costs as much as $24 for a 3D flick in New York City—can make you rethink your go-to strategy for cooling off.
Thankfully, there are all kinds of deals for seeing movies in theaters without paying full price. The latest is MoviePass, which until recently let you see a movie a day for $10 a month. But when the too-good-to-last service raised its price to $15 a month and limited customers to three films a month, it didn't seem like quite the bargain it used to be—especially if you typically only see a few films a year.
But MoviePass isn't the only way to enjoy films on the big screen on a budget. To help you find more ways to save at the movies without resorting to Netflix, we got the goods on six other deals that can save you at least 20 percent, and often much more, off regular ticket prices.
Movie club discounts
Several movie chains offer discounted flicks too. The best deal is AMC Stubs where you get three movies a month for $20. Sinemia lets you see one movie per month for $5 or three per month for $15. And with Regal Crown Club you earn free movie tickets by accruing credits for films you paid for—it works out to about one free movie for every ten tickets you buy.
Savings for Costco and AAA members
With AAA, you can get nearly 40 percent of AMC films, which shakes out to $9.50 in most states, and around 30 percent off at Cinemark theaters, which comes out to $8.50 per ticket. Costco members can see Cinemark films for around $8.50, but some reviewers said they had trouble using their ticket at popular films like Star Wars. Costco members can also purchase AMC tickets in 4-packs for $9 or $11 each and Regal tickets in 10-packs for either $9 or $10 per ticket.
Student and military discounts
AMC, Cinemark, and Regal theaters all offer student and military discounts when you show your identification. Often you can get about 20 percent off the ticket price—including at this Regal theater in Gainesville, Florida—but you have to ask at the box office since the deals aren't always advertised on theaters' online price lists or third-party services like Fandango.
Get up to half off movie tickets through employer discount programs like Plum Benefits or Working Advantage. Typically all you have to do to order tickets is sign in using your company’s access code. Not sure if your company offers these discounts? Ask your benefits department.
Load up your friends and head to the drive-in! Many first-run films play at the remaining drive-in theaters throughout the country, which offer far cheaper tickets than regular theaters. Prices at West Wind Drive-Ins in California and Nevada start as low as $7.50 per person (or $5.50 on Tuesday nights), and at the Starlite Drive-In in Wichita, Kansas the entire carload gets in for $13.
Totally free movies
Of course the best price is free, and there are boatloads of ways to see a free flick on the big screen. On Gofobo, just enter your zip code to receive a redemption code for an advanced screening of a film in your area on a first-come, first served basis. Advance Screenings and SeeitFirst work similarly.
If you’d rather see a movie under the stars, many cities have free outdoor flicks, including New York and Chicago, along with places like Cape Cod. Pack a picnic and don’t forget a blanket to stretch out on for a fantastic evening on the cheap.
Update: This story was updated to reflect the changes in MoviePass pricing on August 15, 2018
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