Strict College Budget? 7 Cheap Ways To See A Movie!

Need a break?

Everyone does! Let’s face it, college can be a stressful time in your life. Balancing schoolwork, possibly working part time, having a social life and giving yourself “me-time” can surely be difficult. One way a lot of students like to kick back and relax is by going to the movies.

It allows us to get away from the stress of school and hang out with our friends. Or it can give you some alone time, if you prefer. I’ve gone to a movie alone, and it is not as awkward as you’d think! It’s kind of liberating!

Although seeing movies has its perks, it can get pricy. Tickets alone have skyrocketed and don’t even get me started on concessions!

Over the years as a college student I have learned a few tips and tricks in order to give in to my sheer joy of going to the movies while still remaining on budget. Here is a list of such ideas, in no particular order.

1. Take Advantage of Matinee Screenings

One of the simplest ways of enabling yourself to see movies at a more affordable cost is to go to the theater during designated “matinee” times. All theater branches have their own specifications but oftentimes movie tickets will be less when going before 5 or 6 pm.

I have also discovered some theaters have certain discount days during the week. One of the Regal theaters near my home offers any movie at $5 any time if you go Monday through Thursday. Visit your local theaters’ website for more information. Just shop around…so to speak.

2. Join Theater Newsletters/Mailing Lists

Similar to the above suggestion, oftentimes joining the mailing lists of theaters in your area will bring you good fortune. Many time theaters will offer movies at bargain prices, free screenings and many other possibilities. You have nothing to lose!


Ain’t It Cool News is one of my favorite film websites on the net! The site offers cool behind-the-scenes news on new and upcoming films, well thought out film reviews from multiple writers and the chance to win super awesome contests! Contests consist of the chance to win DVDS, music and other cool memorabilia. The most exciting type of contest, however, is the chance to win free tickets to advanced screenings!

In the past, I have entered four contests and actually won all of them! I was given the opportunity to attend the screening with one guest, and all four times got to attend a discussion and/or Q&A with the films’ stars! Sometimes short answer questions are required to win, but it’s so worth it! I attend school in Chicago and have had great success. I can’t guarantee it will always be that way, but I do know contests exist in other areas of the U.S. Check it out!

Also try out &

4. Through Your University

Because I was a film major when I started at DePaul, I had joined the mailing list for the film school. Through that I had plenty of free advanced screening offers come my way. Let your college help you out, especially if they are centered around film in any way. Read bulletin boards, join newsletters, and ask around. Sometimes you can even find movie screenings directly on campus through various clubs and organizations.

6. Radio/Newspapers

When it comes to the radio luck tends to be a major factor, but it’s still an option! Many local radio stations offer chances to win tickets just by listening and calling in. Local newspapers are also a safe bet. Many newspapers will offer free or discounted screenings in their entertainment sections.

7. If All Else Fails…

Of course, none of these options are guaranteed to bring you exactly what you want. Factors such as timing, luck and availiblity are prevelant.

Here is a short list of other ways to see movies in a cheaply manner:

  • Ditch the concessions. You’ll end up spending triple the amount you want! Eat beforehand if you can and always carry a water and gum to avoid thirst and hunger.
  • Netflix. It’s afforadable, has a ton of options and oftentimes you can get by using a friend or family members’ account.
  • RedBox. $1 a day! Just don’t forget to return it…You will regret it!
  • Work at a theater. Get the employee discount and make some money in the process!

These are not your only options, but just a few I have encountered while attending college. The best thing you can do is keep your eyes pealed for the deals.

If you know any other ways to get free passes or discounts, leave your suggestions in the comments!

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Molly Stallman

Molly Stallman

Molly Stallman is a senior at DePaul University working toward an English degree with an emphasis on Creative Writing. She also has a minor in Digital Cinema. Molly especially enjoys spending time with loved ones, listening to music, watching movies/television and playing with her dogs. She also has a passion for antiques, crafts, animals, photography and the great outdoors.