Remember when we were younger and a matinee movie at the theater was around $5? Oh, to have those kinds of prices again. These days, taking my family of four to a movie - even a matinee movie - means we're shelling out about $50... and that's before you hit the concession stand! Thankfully, I've figured out a way we can see brand new movies FOR FREE in the theaters. Yep, FREE. Read on to see how you can, too.
Free Movies Step 1:
Sign up for the theater rewards program.
I signed up for the AMC Stubs program earlier this year, and it's been awesome! AMC runs "$5 Ticket Tuesdays," where your movie tickets are only five bucks each. (I know that's not technically seeing a movie for free in the theaters - just keep reading.) They also offer a $5 soda and popcorn deal at the concessions stand. If your AMC theater is one of the locations that offers full meals, they've got special food offers for those, too. You can buy tickets in advance online or through their app, or in person. You just need to be watching the movie on a Tuesday. (As of this writing, they do exclude some holidays when they land on Tuesday, so double check the AMC website.) You'll pay more if you want a 3D movie or an IMAX experience, so we generally just go the budget route for the "regular" screens. They exclude special events, but brand new, only out for a few days movies are eligible for the discount.
We also signed up for the Regal Crown Club. Here, you earn 100 points for each dollar you spend on tickets and concessions. You cash in those points for free concession stand items and tickets at the theater, or other merchandise from the website. As of this writing, it takes 8,000 points to get a free popcorn and 20,000 points for a ticket. You'll periodically get discount offers sent to you, but you'll still need to spend $80 over time to get a free popcorn.
Free Theater Movies Step 2:
Sign up for programs that reward you with free gift cards, including movie gift cards. I participate in a consumer research program (Pinecone Research) that seeks out product feedback for various companies. (Swagbucks is another site that will reward you with gift cards.) At the end of each completed survey, they award me points that I can redeem for a number of thank you gifts. One of the redemption options is to get movie gift cards. So for a few minutes of my time here and there, I can build up to a free movie gift card that I can pair with the bonus programs mentioned below. If you're buying tickets online, you can just enter in the code on the back of the card.
With the $5 Tuesday offer, I can take my family of four to the movies for free - with a little left over for some popcorn. Plus, guess what - I still earn points purchases when I use a gift card to pay, so long as I use it in conjunction with my rewards number!
Plus, have you heard of the Annual Popcorn Tub at AMC? Buy it once for a little more than $20 and get $4.49 refills all year. Do you think I pay cash for the initial purchase? Nope! Gift cards. That little bit left over from our $5 tickets each time we go takes care of the refill charge.
So to wrap it up - Does it take a little advance planning to make your movies free? Yes. Will it occasionally be a tight timeline between the end of the school day and bed time for fitting a movie in? Yes. Will you be called the Best. Mom. Ever. for treating the family to a movie with popcorn on a weeknight? Maybe. Will you be thrilled that you did it on the cheap? Definitely.