How Much Money Are You Wasting on Going to See Sequels?

This year promises many upcoming movie sequels, and you’re likely going to go see at least one in the theaters. Make sure you have a plan for saving money while you’re there — after all, the sequel is rarely as good as the original, so why pay full price for the tickets and concessions?

Why Studios Keep Producing Movie Sequels

In 1991, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” was released in theaters and became not only a commercial success (reaping a whopping $324 million at the box office), but a critical success as well. It was the blockbuster that would define James Cameron’s career — at least, until “Titanic” and “Avatar” came along — and it was the most successful sequel film in history until 2008’s “The Dark Knight” reaped more than $500 million in the U.S., and over $1 billion worldwide.

Many of you probably caught those films in the theater, and I’m willing to bet that many of you will see “Men in Black 3,” set to hit the silver screen today. While there are exceptions, most sequels don’t compare in quality to the original, so why on earth does Hollywood continues to produce them?

The answer is simple: Money. Recent studies show that sequels generate an average of 27 percent more in revenue than similar standalone films.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with going to a sequel, but many people will want to do whatever they can to save money at the movie theater — including the following:

8 Ways to Save Money on Seeing Upcoming Movie Sequels


1. Attend an Afternoon Matinee

Theaters don’t charge as much for movies shown at less popular times of the day. That’s why checking out an afternoon matinee is a great way to save money. Also, movie theaters are often much less crowded during the afternoon than they are at night, which means a quieter experience and better choice of seating.

2. Bring Your Student ID

Most theaters offer discounts for students, so bring along your identification card. Even if it only saves a few bucks, it’s worth the effort.

3. Shop Online

There are a variety of websites that sell discounted movie tickets. Costco’s website sells four-packs of movie tickets for $34.99 with free shipping. You can also sign up for daily deal websites like Groupon and LivingSocial to score great prices on tickets. For instance, there was a recent deal on Groupon for two tickets to “Girl in Progress” for only $12. Also, Regal Cinemas has mobile coupons good for discount concessions posted on their Facebook page.

4. Eat Before You Go

We all know that snack prices at the movie theater are staggering. Consider eating a full meal before you go so you’re not tempted to get that bucket of buttery popcorn. You can also throw a few snacks in your purse or pocket to munch on.

5. Join Loyalty Clubs

You can earn rewards points for free popcorn and movie tickets if you join a membership club such as the AMC Stubs or the Regal Crown Club.

6. Pay With a Cash Back Rewards Credit Card

Both the Chase Freedom and Discover More credit cards offer 5 percent cash back for movie theater purchases through June.

7. Wait Out the Hype

While it’s tempting to see all the latest releases, you can save quite a bit by simply waiting. Most discount movie houses show second-run movies at a significantly discounted admission price. Often, you can catch a movie for just a buck or two by waiting for it to leave the first-run theaters.

8. Check Out a Drive-In

If you can locate a drive-in theater nearby, pack the kids into the car and have fun! Drive-in theaters are often significantly cheaper than cinemas, and offer a unique experience. Just bring along a few blankets in case it cools off after the sun goes down.

To better manage your expenses, create a personal budget, and include entertainment expenditures. Come up with a monthly spending limit for all entertainment expenses based on how much money you earn and how much you must have each month for fixed expenses. If you find that you’ve already spent your entire entertainment budget in a month and still want to catch a flick, rent a movie instead, or budget for a streaming media service like Netflix.

What other ways can you think of to save money on movies?

David Bakke blogs about ways to save money and live large on Money Crashers Personal Finance, an online resource to help improve your “financial fitness.”

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