Thursday, June 24, 2010

Movies on the Cheap

We finally got to one of the Regal free family movies this week, and it inspired me to blog about saving money at the movies. "What's there to save if the movie is free?" you may ask. One word: concessions.

First let me thank Regal for these opportunities during the summer to take my children to experience the movies for free. Though we try to catch a few each summer, we don't tend to take the kids to the movies often. Devin leaned over to me and whispered, "Their screen is MUCH bigger than our TV at home!" Yes, experiencing a movie on the big screen is a thrill like no other.

More importantly, getting to take young children to movies without the fear of paying a fortune only to encounter a meltdown or total restlessness takes the pressure off. I saw my friend Michelle outside the theater on Tuesday cajoling her two-year-old into overcoming her fear of the dark. If she had to walk out, so be it. Years ago my friend Tina had a two-year-old and an infant at Madagascar. Literally a minute into the movie, the lion jumps out, fills the entire screen, and yells, "Surprise!" That was enough to send him into hysterical tears. With that, she picked up the kids and walked out. It happens, and when it happens when you've paid nothing, that's even better.

First some advice for those with kids under four: bypass the concessions completely and they'll never miss it. Pack a few goldfish and sippy cups and milk this as long as you can. The time will come when they'll succumb to the luring smell of popcorn, and that time for me is now. My 6 and 3 year olds look forward to the popcorn as much as the movie, and even my 1 year old dug in. They don't care how much it cost: $6 for small, $7 for medium, or $8 for the large! Yikes! I don't even look at the sodas because I still smuggle in water bottles since I refuse to give them soda anyway.

Between the four of us, we polished off a medium, but next time I have a plan. Since the large comes with unlimited refills and they give you little trays to divvy it up, I'm going to bring a friend and split it. I can live with spending $1 each for popcorn.

Another set of movies to consider is the Summer Kids Series at Carmike Cinemas. There are two in West Knoxville and one in east. Every Tuesday they have a select movie for $1 admission, $1 popcorn, and $1 drink. I don't know if you have to buy drinks. If not, we'd still be shelling out $8 for our family for the movie and popcorn. So I think I'll stick with Regal.

If you just want a free movie to watch for family movie night on the couch, there are plenty of free codes out there for Redbox and the Blockbuster kiosks. Here's one at Blockbuster on Monday, June 28. I tried to use the free code at Redbox widely publicized on June 21, but my closest Redbox was broken. It wasn't worth it for me to hunt for another one.

Of course another great resource for free kids' movies is the library. You have only a week with each one, but you can renew them twice online and keep them for three weeks. They are finally getting a good selection of DVDs. If you haven't yet signed up for the summer reading program, do so soon. I'm looking forward to seeing what coupons they have for us this summer. And don't forget to check their calendar for all the great kids programs they sponsor, especially during the summer.

So back to movies, how do you save money for movies? Have you ever had to walk out of the movie with kids?

1 comment:

  1. Some of the libraries are showing movies for free this summer too! Burlington is showing several, so I think I'm going to take my 1 1/2 year old to their showing of Clifford.