Saving Money on Movies

by on January 14th, 2011
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A simple family outing to a movie today can get quite expensive. On our last trip to the movies in late 2011, we spent $9.50 plus tax per ticket. For my wife, son, and me, that totaled $30.50. Snacks or drinks are also getting outrageously expensive, over $4.00 for a 32-ounce cup filled with more ice than beverage. Because of these prices and other reasons, we do not visit the movie theater very often. We save money by watching movies at home.

Watching movies at home

Netflix and Roku

In late 2010, we downloaded a Netflix application onto our Nintendo Wii and connect through Wi-Fi. We can now watch any movie that Netflix has available on our television for only $7.99 (plus tax) per month, less than the price of a single movie ticket, and we can choose from hundreds of recent or older movies. I purchased a Roku for our second television for only $59.00 plus tax. That cost alone would buy us two trips to the theater without snacks. We can also watch Netflix on our computer from anywhere we go.

Wait for DVD

At first, movies would take nearly a year to become available for DVD rental. These days, movies can make it to DVD within two months of theater release. For $7.99 (plus tax) per month more, we have DVDs delivered to our home. We can reserve an advanced copy, and it will come to us as soon as available. Our total monthly cost for Netflix is $17.10 (including tax), which does not get us even two tickets to a single movie in our local theater.

We control the movie

In the theater, we cannot pause the movie to get snacks or use the restroom; we miss much of it if we leave the theater. At home, we can pause, rewind, or forward through the movie when we decide. We can watch some of the movie one night and finish it later. We also get to sit on our own furniture and not wonder about any goop under our feet.

When we do go to the theater


Rare times will come when my wife and I decide to go to the theater. For example, if the movie’s promos entice us to see it immediately, we may go to the theater upon the movie’s release. We may wait for the weekend and pay a little less for a matinee. At our local theater, the matinee tickets cost $7.00 each. That is still high but better than prime time costs. If our son stays at a friend’s house, then we may have a date night to ourselves and occasionally take in a movie at prime prices but for only two instead of three.

On vacation

We may visit a theater in our vacation city as part of our activities. Since we do not frequent theaters, we consider this an unusual activity for vacation. We will go during the daytime at matinee prices.

Eat before we go

When we go to the theater, we fill up first. Movie theater concessions can cost nearly as much as a restaurant meal. At the theater closest to us, large-sized popcorn to share and a drink for each of us costs approximately $20.00. Therefore, we will either eat at home or find a low-cost restaurant before we hit the theater. This keeps us from buying over-priced concessions. In addition, when eat at a restaurant, we get much more to eat and a healthier choice than butter-sapped and salt-laden popcorn.

Adding up our monthly cost for watching movies at home comes to $205.20. That seems like a lot of money to spend on movies, but we worked out the math. That $205.20 would buy 20 theater tickets, which would allow the three of us into six movies, one every two months, and have two tickets left over. At home, we get an unlimited supply, and we can see the movies as often as we choose. We also get many older television programs and specials included in our package. Entertainment is important to us, but we found a way to reduce the cost and still enjoy the best movies available.

More from this contributor:

First Person: 5 Ways I Have Made Money Online

First Person: Keeping the Family Entertained Without Breaking the Bank

First Person: Sometimes Treating Ourselves Is Worth the Cost

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