Blockbusters on the cheap: how to save on movie tickets

Beat the heat with a summer blockbuster, without breaking the bank. 

Jerry Bruckheimer, Inc./Disney/AP/File
Johnny Depp, left, as Tonto, and Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger, in a scene from the film "The Lone Ranger." Catching a matinee and buying tickets in bulk are two easy ways to save a few extra bucks on pricey summer movie tickets.

The summer's blockbuster movies are here (finally!) so you can give your Netflix queue a rest. Are you gearing up to see Man of Steel, World War Z, or Pacific Rim?

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the cinema, so long as the A/C is working. But the "full movie theater experience" — complete with popcorn, soda, Snow Caps, and the like — can be pricey. Thankfully movie theater deals and discounts abound, and we've got some tips on how to enjoy the big screen films for little cash.

Firstly, let us state the obvious: see a matinee. According to Real Simple, catching the day's first screening can save you around $3 per ticket. For larger cineplexes, matinees usually start around noon, but most local, independently run theaters only open their doors around 5 pm on weekdays — the perfect time for a movie, then dinner.

If you can't make an early screening, or if you prefer to take in the sunshine this summer, and still want to get the most out of your movie experience, consider buying your movie tickets in bulk. With movie ticket admissions starting at just $7.79, saves you at least $4 per ticket, and you'll receive free shipping on eight or more tickets via Google Checkout and coupon code "TURKEYTX". [Editor's note: Yes, we know that's a Thanksgiving-themed coupon, but it still works!]

But when eight tickets are too many (that's almost 16 hours of video if you view all the movies solo!), keep an eye out for Fandango deals: we've seen tickets valued at $12 for as little as $5 a piece. If you're loyal to a particular theater, consider setting up an email alert for that chain, so that you're notified immediately the next time we find a deal.

Score Free Movie Tickets and Concession Snacks

If you don't want to dish out for your movie tickets in advance, Real Simple suggests that you see if your credit card company offers any perks. Right now Visa Signature cardholders can get a free Fandango movie ticket when purchasing one at regular price on Fridays. Or join AMC Stubs for one year ($12) and you'll receive $10 in rewards points for every $100 you spend at AMC Theaters, free upgrades on concession snacks, waived online ticket purchase fees, and more.

Speaking of discounted concession stand goodies, we often see both AMC Theaters and Regal Cinemas coupons for free or discounted small drinks or popcorn, available by just liking the CineMark Facebook page. Alternatively, you could pick up your snacks first at Kmart and score a Man of Steel voucher for free. We won't judge you for buying the required four bags of 11-oz. to 17.6-oz. Hershey's or Twizzlers (from $8 with in-store pickup, a low by at least $8; expires July 13).

Free movie vouchers are also a popular item to be bundled with gift cards, as well as DVDs and Blu-ray movies. In fact, right now when you buy select Blu-ray movies at Amazon, you'll receive up to $10 in Sony Movie Cash for This Is the End.

As a budget-conscious cinephile, you should keep all these tips in mind when planning future trips to the movies. But you should also be signed up for an email alert so you know immediately when we list such deals, which not only include the above promotions, but also free tickets to movie screenings.

Note that this feature has been updated since it was originally published last year.

Emily Dovi is the senior features editor for, where this article first appeared.

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