02.Planning is everything
Going to the movies doesn’t have to blow the budget if you’re flexible enough to attend during off-peak times.
Most cinemas offer discounts on particular days of the week – usually Mondays or Tuesdays – when adult tickets can cost as little as $6.50. Event Cinemas also have $8 Mondays for students, and some Hoyts screen selected “Matinee Movies” before 5pm for between $9 and $15.
But as with most special deals, make sure you read the terms and conditions before getting too excited. Some cinemas charge extra for premium screens and 3D, while some others don’t discount these sessions at all.
Break the chains
While they may not have the huge screens or the variety, the local independent may well be a cheaper way to take the family to the movies.
CHOICE readers reported their satisfaction with several local cinemas. There are savings to be had at Brisbane’s Cineplex chain (up to $8.50 adults, $4.50 child), Sydney’s Dumaresq Street Cinema (all tickets $6), Adelaide’s Odeon Star Semaphore Cinemas ($8 all tickets), and Melbourne’s Australian Cinemas Croydon (up to $11.50 adult, $7.50 child for 2D), among others.
“I now almost always go to a small community cinema,” says Peter Christie. “It is old and dusty and plays only a selection of latest releases. However, tickets are good at $8 to any session. I still think that the cinema is a thrill and have gone to the odd midnight premiere and totally enjoyed the experience with a group of complete strangers, some of whom still like to dress up.”
Outdoor cinemas and drive-ins are also seeing something of a resurgence, with some CHOICE members happy to watch from the comfort of the car. Some are seasonal, but most are comparatively better value.
Forget the extras
Even 3D pioneer and director James Cameron admits that seeing movies in 3D doesn’t always add to the quality of the experience, but it almost always adds to the price. Similarly, while it can be nice to watch films on larger screens, they often come with a fee. If you’re happy enough to watch 2D movies on traditional-sized screens, stick to these cheaper sessions.
For those on a budget, avoiding the concession stand is also compulsory. The heavenly smell of buttery popcorn has long been associated with the movie experience, but is it really worth $10 a tub? Do you really need that soft drink if it’s going to cost you $5? Save your cash and maybe some kilojoules by bringing your own drinks and snacks with you.
It’s particularly easy if you’re going to a cinema that’s in a shopping centre - “We buy our snacks from the supermarket near the cinemas as it's much cheaper,” says Mel McDonald. Many cinemas will allow you to bring (reasonable) food with you – just don’t try to sneak in a curry, or any other hot food.