This week's Frugal Friday topic is on Saving Money at the Movies. Some of this may apply to you and your area, some may not. Also, this advice is a bit subjective as I will freely admit that I loathe modern multiplex type Cinemas. With that said though, on with the show!
Frugal Tip #1:
If you must go to a multiplex cinema, matinee screenings (ie: before 6pm in most areas) on weekdays are often a few dollars cheaper than peak times (evenings and weekends).
Frugal Tip #2:
If you are fortunate enough to have a Drive In Theater still operating in your area, PLEASE support it! Okay so you don't get surround sound, and as a lot of Drive-In's are now getting rid of the speakers that you sit inside your car door you have to invest in a battery operated radio (unless your car radio won't drain your car battery too much) but Drive In's are the greatest movie-going creation, ever!
As a child, my mother opted to take me to the Drive In to see movies rather than the actual cinema because it was so much cheaper. Adults were $7 for a Double Feature and on Tuesday nights, children were free. Additionally, we could bring my beloved Poodle, Nadia along in addition to our own food without any angst from management. The Drive In I frequented as a child, the Aspley Starlite Twin on Brisbane's North Side has now been replaced by a housing development.
It was still there when I was a teen though- I dragged my boyfriends there as soon as I started dating boys old enough to drive.
Thankfully, there is still a Drive In within an easy commute of St. Louis, the Skyview Drive In located in Belleville, Illinois.
The current prices at the Skyview are $10 per adult for a Double Feature ($5.00 per movie) and I believe children are free.
Unfortunately, Drive Ins all throughout the world have been closing down for decades. Click Here for a list of Drive Ins throughout the U.S. categorized by State- the information shows both former and existing Drive Ins and in some cases offers prices.
With the impending transition to digital movies however, some Drive Ins may not be able to afford the new equipment charge. It is so important to support our Drive Ins now- you'll be saving yourself some money, and possibly saving an American Institution in doing so!
Below- St. Louis's former Airway Drive In on St. Charles Rock Road was redeveloped as a shopping complex. Thankfully they still retained their fabulous retro sign!
Frugal Tip #3:
If I wasn't going to the Drive In as a child, I was going to one of many small, locally owned and operated Cinemas. This kind of falls into my logic behind Drive Ins as well- instead of your money going to a nationwide conglomerate, wouldn't you prefer your dollar being invested at grass roots level in your own hometown or region?
Additionally, smaller (non-chain) cinemas are often much cheaper than the big multiplexes as they don't have the same amount of overheads.
In St. Louis, the Hi-Pointe Theater is $5.00 for a standard seat, Monday-Thursday or you can purchase a $40 card to see 10 movies (therefore $4.00 per movie). This is a definite saving when you consider the average movie ticket at a multiplex is about $8.00 in most areas nowadays!
Other affordable theaters in the St. Louis area include the Keller Plaza 8 in South County (which is technically a multiplex but is part of a very small chain) which offers films for $3.00 matinee or $4.00 regular showings and The Lincoln in Belleville IL (about $5.00 per person). I'm hesitant to list the Tivoli as it's now a part of the Landmark chain, and in spite of it's charm, it's about the same price as your average multiplex.
Frugal Tip #4:
Avoid the Concession stand at all costs! Unless you're going to a Mom & Pop cinema (who can use all the help they can get) steer clear of the Candy, Popcorn and Drinks! I was horrified to find that last time I went to a Multiplex, a bottle of water, even out of the vending machine was $5! Large cinema chains use the concession stand as their primary source of profit due to the exorbitant cost of overheads.
The best ways to avoid this trap and the tempting smell of popcorn are to:
a) Eat beforehand! Hit up your local diner or greasy spoon and spend a few dollars on something far more filling and satisfying than Popcorn and Good & Plenty! Or, just eat at home! Never go to the Cinema feeling hungry!
b) Smuggle in your own snacks. Okay so this could be construed as unethical by some, but I know that if I have to suffer through a screening at a multiplex, the air conditioning makes my throat dry. It's not uncommon for women to tote hobo style bags nowadays- hide your bottle of water and your small snacks from home under a scarf at the bottom of a large handbag (as some cinemas ask you to open your bag to prove you aren't bringing in any outside food or drink). Once you're in the dark cinema, nobody is any the wiser!
So to summarize- Go Early, Go Local and Go Full!
Of course, you could always wait until the movie is available for rental on DVD and save yourself even more money, but if you have to see something on the big screen, my tips will save you some more of your hard earned dollars!
Stay Frugal and Stay Glamorous!