Want to Save On Movie Tickets? Try Buying in Bulk

Much as I agree with Ridley Scott (and cinephiles everywhere) that a giant movie theater screen remains the ideal way to watch a film, the fact remains that the moviegoing experience itself isn’t always so great. There are a lot of irritants to contend with, including overpriced snacks, cramped spaces, noisy patrons, distracting cell phone screens, and so on — but expensive ticket prices, at least, may be something you can get around if you’re willing to make a few tradeoffs. Just as buying twenty packs of gum at a time from Costco will save you dollars in the long run, so can buying movie tickets at the bulk corporate rate add up to huge savings. More details after the jump.

Lifehacker posted the tip from Not Worth Admission, which advises buying tickets in bulk through theaters’ corporate websites:

They typically sell two types of passes: One that lets you into any film, and the other that lets you into a film that has been out for more than two weeks.

Regal Cinemas (which also includes United Artists Theatres and Edwards’ Theatres) offers Premiere ($7.50) and VIP ($6.50) passes. We haven’t bought these because they have a $1.50 Manhattan theater surcharge. Annoying, eh?

Instead, we buy Gold ($7.50) and Silver ($6) passes from AMC (including Loews), who don’t have a Manhattan premium. They also count towards the AMC Stubs program.

The passes don’t expire, which is nice. Other theater chains – even some of the smaller ones and also some independent theaters – have similar offerings.

To put things in perspective, a regular-priced, non-IMAX, non-3D adult ticket at an AMC in Manhattan currently goes for about $13, so even the more expensive of the AMC passes would represent a 58% discount for New Yorkers like myself.

Naturally, there are a few downsides to the bulk purchase. You’ll still have to shell out extra for 3D and IMAX. If you’re short on time or looking to get into a crowded screening, the fact that you’ll have to wait in line for a transaction with an actual person, rather than purchasing tickets online or at a self-serve kiosk, could prove an issue.

Then there’s the upfront cost. You’ll likely have to get at least 50 tickets at a time, which means you’ll have to start by putting up $300 or more. Still, if you go to the movies about once a week, it’ll take you just one year to get through them all — not a problem since there’s no expiration date — and that’s if you’re greedy and don’t pass along the discounts to your date / family / friends. Or you could always get a few other acquaintances to get in with you on a group buy, so that instead of 50 tickets for $300, you could get a more manageable 10 tickets for $60, for example.

Not Worth Admission has a few other pennysaving pointers for cinephiles as well, ranging from the obvious (matinees) to the somewhat more obscure (credit card rewards programs). Head over to their site for more tips, and leave your own in the comments below.

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