A family of two adults and two concession-card carrying students seeing a standard movie on a Saturday night in at Hoyts Broadway, NSW in 2011 paid $67 for tickets alone ($18 adults, $15.50 concessions). A trip to the candy bar adds to the expenses – a bag of Starburst Rattlesnakes (180g, $5.10), a packet of Red Rock Deli chips (90g, $4.40), two small cups of soft drink (600ml, $5.20 each) and two Magnum ice creams ($4.90 each), and their evening out costs them a total of $96.70. Not that they would necessarily know how much they had each been charged – receipts are provided on request, aren’t itemised, and snack prices aren’t displayed in plain sight.
Savings to be had
A family of four can save dosh by going to the same cinema on a Tuesday, when tickets to standard screenings are $11. Downstairs at Coles they’ll pay far less for identical snacks: $2.49 for the Starburst, $2.57 for the chips, $6.90 for two 600ml bottles of Coca Cola soft drink, and $6.60 for two Magnum ice creams. The cheaper entire outing costs $62.56, less than they’d pay for just tickets on the Saturday, a total saving of over $34.
Join the club
In an effort to encourage return business and brand loyalty some cinemas offer cheap days, discounted or free tickets and cheaper snacks for members. In some cases, like Event Cinema’s Cine Buzz, joining up costs nothing. In others, like Palace Cinemas’ Movie Club, you may have to fork out an annual fee, but this often pays for itself in the form of gift vouchers upon joining and on your birthday.
Some cinemas also have dedicated seniors, kids or parents clubs, and in some cases is may be well worth joining - members of the Event Cinemas Seniors Club pay $8 for movies (excluding Saturdays after 5pm).
If you’re unwilling or unable to join up at the cinema, a third party discounter may do the trick. Members of some motoring associations, telcos and health funds, including the NRMA, RACQ, Telstra, Optus, BUPA and Medibank Private, are eligible for discounted tickets. The downside is that they generally need to be bought in advance from the third party. Discounts are also often available through university bookshops, though you may need to be a student or on faculty to take advantage.
Another option is to purchase a Kare Kard or Entertainment Book, sold by charities, community organisations and clubs for fundraising throughout Australia. Kare Kards, which are sold online, cost $49.95, with $10 going to an organisation of the buyer’s choice. Tickets bought with a Kare Kard are up to 35% off. Entertainment Books, available through third parties only, cost between $50 and $65, with 20% of earnings going to the seller. Tickets bought with vouchers from the book are up to 50% off.