With the Academy Awards just over a month away, we’re gearing up for the celeb-infused night by binging on 2013's cream of the crop silver screen offerings. Lacking in Jordon Belfort’s millions however, we mortals must do our best to scrimp and save in order to afford the luxury of a trip to the movies at a time when theater prices are sky rocketing. Fortunately there are ways to save at the box office that make indulging indulge in Hollywood’s finest affordable.
Bring the Box Office Home
The good news is that a number of Oscar-nominated flicks are already accessible online and in-store. Without parting with a single penny, you can sign up for a Netflix 1-month trial and gain immediate access to four of the five highly-rated movies, which are up for the Best Documentary gong at this year’s ceremony: The Act of Killing, Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars, and The Square. Also available from the media streaming giant, is Danish movie The Hunt, which has been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. (Note that you must cancel your Netflix subscription before the trial is over or you will be billed for one month of service, currently $7.99.)
If these titles don't suit your fancy, you'll be happy to know that many of this year's blockbuster movies are now available to buy or rent. You can bag a copy of Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine on DVD or fellow Best Picture nominee, Captain Phillips on DVD for $17.99 a piece (a low by $1 and $7, respectively). Many of these big movies are also available to rent from Amazon Instant from just $3.99, including the aforementioned Blue Jasmine, Before Midnight, and Despicable Me 2. If using Google to carry out your own research seems like a lot of hard work, check out Can I Stream It? to find out what movies are available to stream, and where.
Save on Theater Tickets & Bag Discounts at the Drive-In
If an at-home experience isn't thrilling enough for you cinephiles, then you can still head to the theater and save some money. The most obvious way to spend less on movie tickets is to opt for a matinee showing. We've found that you can save an average of 26% on ticket prices and as much as $6.50 in select theaters just by heading to the movies a couple hours earlier.
If you're lucky enough to still possess a valid student card, many cinemas will shave a couple of bucks off movie ticket prices. AMC Theatres, in particular, offers a student discount every Thursday in select locations. AMC Theatres also hosts Senior Day every Tuesday, when those over 60 can score a cheaper ticket. If you've a few too many kiddies to make it to to movies without breaking the bank, participating Cinemark cinemas host Reel Family Time every Monday, when parties of three or more pay a budget-busting buck per person.
One way to save big and binge on all the best the industry has to offer this year is to head along to AMC Theatres' 2013 Oscar Best Picture Nominee 9-Film Showcase, which will take place over two days in February. For just $60, you can catch up on all nine movies of this year's best films. AMC Stubs members will even receive $5 to use on concessions per day. (Membership only costs $12 and includes free concessions upgrades and no online fees for the year.) If you don't want to see all of the Oscar-nominated films all at once, you can just buy a ticket for a single day — $30 for the February 22 showing of four movies or $40 for the March 1 run of the remaining five.
As great an offer as the above is, if you can't quite sacrifice two whole days to the movies, Bankrate recommends a far more novel way to cut down on the cost of cinema trips: the drive-in. At one of 380 drive-ins nationwide, admission is charged by the car-ful.
Invest in Memberships & Gift Cards
Although spending a lump sum on a movie theater membership can be hard to stomach at first, such subscriptions can save avid cinema-goers a lot of money in the long-run. MoviePass for Android or iOS costs an initial $59.99 (including a sign-up fee, one month of service, and shipping) and gives you access to unlimited movies at participating theaters across the States. This is a particularly great deal for cinema-goers in New York, L.A., or other big cities who can save big bucks after just six or more trips, as the cost of adult tickets can reach up to $14.50 in these locales. After the first month, the service costs just $30 per month, which offers even more savings if you continue to head to the movies on a regular basis.
Bulktix offers another way to save by thinking long-term. Buy your tickets for the week, month, or year in one go and you will save an average of $2 to $3 on each one, giving you a little leftover change to hit the lobby with.
We also love discounted gift cards. Raise.com cuts up to 13% off a selection of relevant cards, including those for AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas. Reduced Amazon and iTunes gift cards can also be used to stream movies and yield high savings.
According to Real Simple, many credit card companies also offer movie-goers perks at the cinema. Visa Signature cardholders can currently bag a $25 Fandango gift card for just $20. Meanwhile, American Express cardholders can use their Rewards points to pay for movie tickets. If you're no slave to plastic, then stick to rewards programs piloted by your local movie theater. Most will have loyalty cards and will allow you to pay for tickets and concessions with points, while downloading the Regal Cinemas app for Android or iOS will secure you a concession coupon each month.
It may be one of the film industry's most profitable times of year, but as you can see, there are many ways to save while still enjoying the luxury of Leonardo DiCaprio's face on the big screen. So, whether you head to the movies with coupons in tow or bring the experience home you can sit back, relax, and watch the beautiful people live the American Dream for a fraction of the cost.
Donna Doyle is a senior staff writer for dealnews.com, where this article first appeared.