How to buy cheap movie tickets


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Barbie or Oppenheimer? For a while, this was the big question that everyone was asking. In 2023, we are heading back to the movies in a big way.

For teenagers and younger people, going to movies with friends is a ritual that allows them independence in a safe environment. And with many people caught in cost-of-living crisis with higher-than-expected rent or mortgage payments, going out has become the new event out. It's more affordable than a holiday, fine dining or a shopping trip and it leaves us feeling good.

Did you know: 110 million people still went to see the movies in 1930 despite tough economic times? For only 23 cents (USD), people flocked to the cinemas to enjoy glamorous films with a happy ending and a promise of a better life.

how to buy cheap movie tickets

Some movies are just better watched in the cinema than on Netflix, Stan, iView or even an old TV re-run. The sound of jet fighter engines in the Top Gun: Maverick came to life in cinema sound surround. One friend loved that movie so much she went to the cinema four times to watch it.

Entertainers are also tapping into the sound surround experience. Couldn't get Tay Tay tickets? The next best thing was the Taylor Swift Eras movie, which even showed 24 hours a day for a while.

Sale and discounted movie tickets

If you wait until you are at the movies to buy tickets, you are missing out on an opportunity to save. There are some great deals around, but you need to think and plan ahead.

Budget Tuesdays: Most cinemas still offer specials for Tuesdays, although some offer member specials for Mondays. Some of the best Tuesday deals include Event Cinemas (50% off), Dendy Cinema ($11 for standard sessions or $20 for Premium Lounge sessions), Palace (general admission for $12), and HOYTS ($13 movie tickets and $33 HOYTS LUX tickets).

Motoring associations: Are you a member of RACV, NRMA, RACQ or another organisation? If so you can save up to 52% on movie vouchers at Event Cinemas. The eVouchers cost between $14 and $18 depending on time of use.

Groupon: Groupon offers Event Cinema movie tickets for $13.99. This deal is further reduced to $11.90 during sales like Black Friday. Several other group buying sites offer discounts on movies, so it pays to check this out before heading to the movies.

Cashback. Want some cashback on your movie tickets? Cashback sites such as CashRewards, ShopBack and Grow My Money often offer movie deals. Shopback currently has app only specials with HOYTS including a $14.95 adult movie ticket (plus $2.99 cashback), and Monday to Thursday tickets of only $9.99 (with $2 cashback).

Telstra Plus: Telsta Plus customers can purchase movie ticket offers for use at Event or Village Cinemas. It currently offers a special of 5 vouchers for $50.

Frequent flyer points: If you have points you want to use up and not nearly enough to jet around the world, buying movie tickets can be a good option. Velocity Rewards Store sells an Event Cinemas $100 Gift Card for 18,715 points. Qantas Marketplace sells a $100 HOYTS gift card for 20,770 points, with HOYTS cards 20% off during cyberweek. You can also earn extra points for going to the movies: Qantas Club and HOYTS have a partnership and you can earn Qantas points when purchasing tickets. At the time of writing, you could earn 200 bonus Qantas points if you bought tickets to see Napoleon (limited to the first 3000 linked members).

Movie membership programs

In the last few years, the larger cinema chains have become competitive with their membership offers. This can work well if you have a local cinema that you prefer to go to. Some membership programs are free, while others require payment. Several membership programs offer discounts on the movie of the week, and one even offers free popcorn refills.

HOYTS Rewards Member: HOYTS membership program has both a free and a VIP ($15) version. With the free version, members save 10% on tickets, earn Qantas and HOYTS points and can enjoy 10% on movie tickets. VIP members receive 25% off on movie tickets, 10% off food and drink and earn double HOYTS points. With any version, members can see the movie of the week for $11, earn Qantas Points and get free popcorn refills.

Club Dendy: Membership to Dendy Cinema's program costs $18 (recently reduced from $50). Members get 25% off standard tickets, and half-price tickets each Monday. They also get access to exclusive preview screenings and events.

Palace Movie Club:  Palace Cinemas offers free and premium movie club members. The free membership offers discounted tickets and points, whereas the premium membership offers a complimentary ticket, points, exclusive access to special events and membership offers and rewards.

Cinebuzz: Event Cinema's movie program is free to join. It offers discounted rates on the movie of a week, advance screenings, bonus points and special offers and promotions. It also has different types of memberships. For instance, Cinebuzz Chicks at the Flicks features special event screenings of the hottest Chick Flicks with things like lucky door prizes and goodie bags for attendees. Meanwhile, Cinebuzz for seniors offers $10 tickets for sessions before 11am and special Seniors Screenings.

Vrewards: Village Cinema's membership program is free to join and provides members with 20% off all tickets, 20% off certain candy bar combos, points bonuses and exclusive offers. It's website helpfully provides options for redeeming points. You can earn 10 points for every $1 spent. If you spent $50, you would earn 500 points and could redeem that on a small popcorn. $250 would allow you to redeem points for a gold class upgrade or a standard ticket.

Film appreciation

If you really love film, and enjoy an array of experiences - not just Hollywood - then why not embrace that by being a film connoisseur?

Join a film group. Did you know that there are a number of film groups throughout Australia that offer discounts to members? Most aren't shown in cinemas, but often they have good facilities - plus a social element. The Australian National University Film Group shows a wide range of movies in its modern venue in the Kambri Precinct. An annual pass costs $90 and includes eight guest passes. A weekly pass costs $15. The Sydney University Film Society, founded in 1947, even offers free pizza and soft drink at its movies. There are also U3A film groups that enjoy regular social screenings. To find, or form, a film group contact the Australian Film Societies Federation.

Enjoy a film festival. Some countries host international film festivals, e.g. the famous French Film Festival, or lesser known ones (e.g. the Hungarian Film Festival that is soon on). Not only can you enhance your Duolingo language skills, but many are sponsored by embassies or local businesses. They might not be bargain basement cheap, but it is a full cultural immersion - often with food, alcohol or other entertainment and aspects sponsored by embassies or businesses. Then there are local events such as the Sydney Film Festival (SYDFEST) and the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF); BIFF TIX can be prepurchased in bulk with a 20 pack costing $280 (or $14 per ticket).

Independent cinemas

Smaller chains often offer great movie deals. They also offer a great atmosphere and history, often reflecting a time in history when a cinema was in nearly every local community. It was a place where people would gather, pre-television, to watch movies but also see international news including of the war.

Limelight Cinemas is an example of a small chain. It offers a range of movies similar to the big players, but also quirky ones such as The Princess Bride and Retro Rewind. Adult tickets at Limelight Cinemas Tuggeranong is $14 for an adult and $30 for Gold.

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Serina Bird is a proud frugalista who has amassed more than a million dollars through frugal living. She is the author of several books including The Joyful Frugalista and The Joyful Startup Guide. Serina blogs at The Joyful Frugalista, and her podcast is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. She is also the founder of The Joyful Business Club. Her new book, How To Pay Your Mortgage Off in 10 Years is out now!
Nic Benson
December 28, 2023 4.52pm

Not much use to those who live nearly 400km from the nearest of those chains.

Susie Furner
January 2, 2024 11.39pm

@NickBenson you raise a good point, most promoted activities and discounts are about and benefit people who live in urban Australia, and yet 30% of the population, or allrox 7mill people, live in rural, remote and regional Australia. It would be helpful, if more of the readership, indeed the population were to be served and supported.