Cheap ways to go to the cinema

Going to the cinema is still one of the most popular leisure activities in the UK.

It hasn't quite reached the almost essential part of daily life it seems to be in America but, nevertheless, thousands of us enjoy a trip to the flicks every week.

Big business

In fact 168million of us went to the cinema in 2016 with the box office pulling in £1.25billion.  Clearly then, going to the movies is a popular day or night out but, it can be very expensive. 

Single tickets have risen over 25% in the last five years and can cost over £20 at some cinemas.  With the average moviegoer spending up to £12 each on top of their ticket price, a cinema can cost a pretty penny. 

There are ways to cut costs though.

No-one goes out on a Tuesday

Cinemas, just like pubs and restaurants, are typically much quieter during the middle of the week.

This is why many cinema chains have introduced special off-peak pricing for midweek shows.  Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons typically see the prices of tickets tumble and, whilst not everyone can attend at those times because of work or college, if you do have the free time a midweek trip to the movies can save you pounds.

Memberships and season tickets

There are movie fans and then there are movie fans.  If you’re a dedicated cinema goer rather than the occasional visitor who only goes when a new Star Wars film is released, there are some great deals to be had.

Cineworld offers their 'Unlimited Card' for a little over £17 per month (at the time of writing).  The card allows the holder to see as many movies as they wish at any time and on any day.  There are also other benefits including 10% off food and drink and discounted upgrades.  If you go to the cinema once a week or more you’ll be quids in with this deal.

Other cinemas also offer similar schemes.  Odeon Limitless again offers unlimited screenings for a single monthly fee.  If you have a favourite cinema near you it is well worth visiting their website to see if they have a membership scheme.

However, be aware cinema season tickets can become the movie fans equivalent of the gym membership.  It's used constantly for the first month and then a year later you remember you're still paying for it despite not being able to remember the last time you used it.

Family tickets

The cinema can be expensive enough if you are just going on your own or with a partner but your eyes can definitely start to water if you take the whole family.  Paying for single tickets for everyone can be horribly expensive but a little research can save you some cash.

Some cinema chains (Vue and Odeon), offer family tickets where the entire group all pay children's prices.  Naturally enough there is a blizzard of small print here.  You can't just rock up with a dozen friends and claim they are all family.

But, two adults and two children, sometimes one adult and three kids, will qualify for these offers.  Again, it is wise to check the cinemas website or to ring the box office to check their family pricing policy before setting of.

Children's tickets

Saturday morning movies for kids are a great British tradition.  The days of the penny picture shows may be long gone but cut-price tickets are still available in most cinemas.  Saturday and Sunday mornings usually see cheap tickets for kids and sometimes for accompanying adults.

These deals are usually extended to midweek during the school holidays so look out for them if you're struggling for ideas to keep the kids occupied during the long summer break.

Online deals

The internet can be a wonderful place and with the help of a search engine of your choice, you can find some great deals online.

Unfortunately they do take some ferreting out but you can find them.  Check out sites like Groupon and Wowcher which may have occasional offers.  Also, always check your local cinemas website for special promotions and events.

But, apart from deals on tickets how else can you save cash when you visit the cinema?

Here is something to consider.

Don't head for the concession stand

If there is one complaint which I imagine 99% of movie goers share, it’s the cost of refreshments.  The prices of popcorn, soft drinks and sweets can be crazy.

I can’t sit through a movie without guzzling a couple of cans of pop and munching my way through two bags of crisps and a chocolate bar.  There seems to be something about the big screen which just makes us want to eat.

You can save pounds by not visiting the concession stand, probably enough to pay for another ticket later in the week.

But I do realise this is easier said than done.  Especially if you have taken the kids with you. 

Save cash and take your own snacks and drinks

Not here is a tricky question.  'Can I take my own food into the cinema?'  This such a hard one to answer and very much depends on which cinema you are going to.  Even then the answer may not be crystal clear.

Let me explain.

Different cinemas have different rules but one thing they all have in common is that you may not under any circumstances take in hot food or alcohol.  That's a given.  But each venue does differ on whether they allow snacks and cold drinks.

Vue and Empire for example have a clear policy of allowing movie goers to bring in their own snacks and soft drinks.  They, naturally enough, don't encourage it but they are happy for patrons to bring in their own food.

Elsewhere it is a different story.  Cineworld don't actually forbid it but they don't expressly allow it either.  You need to make a judgement call if you are visiting a Cineworld cinema.

Others, like Picture House have strict policies of not allowing any food and drink to be brought in.

I guess the best policy here is to check before you travel.

Off to the movies?

By shopping around you will be able to find discount cinema tickets and can save pounds by not eating or taking your own food into the cinema with you.  Enjoy the next blockbuster.