Whether it’s a big blockbuster or a romantic tearjerker, you can’t beat a trip to the cinema for providing great entertainment. However, the cost of going to the pictures has rocketed in recent years.
According to data from the British Film Institute, the average price of cinema admission in the UK jumped from £4.87 in 2006 to £7.17 in 2015, an increase of almost 50%, and they can be double this in some London cinemas.
However, there are plenty of savvy ways to enjoy the latest films at the big screen without breaking the bank.
1. Book online
An easy way to cut the cost is to book your tickets online with Cineworld – register for an online account and you save 10% on all tickets you book online. You can then choose to print the tickets off at the cinema, or simply show your e-ticket (sent via email or text message) when you arrive.
2. Membership schemes
Some of the UK’s biggest cinema chains operate membership schemes, which can deliver big savings if you are a regular cinemagoer.
For example, Cineworld has its Cineworld Unlimited card, which starts at £17.40 a month. You can see as many films as you like (though there is an additional charge for 3D or IMAX showings), as well as getting discounts on food and drink, and on restaurants including Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito.
- You can also save money on food by checking our top restaurant vouchers of the week page, which is updated every Friday morning.
Odeon, meanwhile, has its Limitless membership scheme. It starts at £17.99 a month and also allows unlimited viewings, though again there is an additional charge for 3D or IMAX screenings.
Be sure to sign up for these online via a cashback website, such as TopCashback.co.uk or Quidco.com, as you’ll get around £10 back in cashback, meaning even further savings.
Odeon also offers Premiere, a loyalty club that rewards your spending with points. You get 10 points for every £1 you spend, and you can cash these points in for tickets or discounts on food and drink.
There are three price packages: Classic costs £1.99 and comes with a bonus 100 points; Deluxe costs £4.99 and comes with 500 points; and Ultimate costs £9.99 with 1,000 points, plus you earn double points in your first month.
Picturehouse cinemas also has its own membership scheme. You get four free cinema tickets, £2 off further tickets, no booking fees and invitations to preview screenings, as well as a host of deals from partner firms such as Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) and Hotel Chocolat. Prices range from £20 to £95.
And finally, Showcase Cinemas has the Insider Club. Sign up and you get tickets for £6.50 (or £8.50 for 3D films) for screenings after 7pm on Sunday or all day on Mondays and Tuesdays. You can take advantage of member-only advance screenings and food and drink discounts. What's more, it’s free to join.
3. Special offers for children and seniors
Hitting the cinema with the kids in tow can cost a small fortune. Thankfully, many chains offer special screenings for kids, with much cheaper ticket prices. With Cineworld’s Movies for Juniors, for example, tickets start at just £2, or £3.50 for 3D for parents and their children, while at Odeon’s Kids’ screenings you can get tickets for just £2.50, for children and adults alike.
Vue runs Mini Morning screenings every weekend, and then every day during the school holidays, with tickets costing £2.49 each for juniors and adults. Tickets are even cheaper at Empire Junior screenings, where you can take your kids to the pictures and pay as little as £1.75 per ticket no matter what your age.
A host of cinemas have special offers in place for older film buffs, which often include a hot drink and a biscuit with the ticket price. For example Odeon has Silver Cinema, where tickets start at £3, and are available to all those over the age of 55. Vue holds ‘senior screenings’ at
certain cinemas for those over the age of 60, while Empire has Empire Seniors at select cinemas every Wednesday morning costing £3.50.
At Showcase, every Monday seniors can view any film beginning before midday for just £5. Meanwhile, Reel Cinemas has seniors club every Tuesday with one low price on a specially selected film.
4. Two-for-one tickets
There are a couple of ways you can bag two tickets for the price of one when you head to the pictures.
If you purchase something through the Compare the Market price comparison site, you can enjoy two-for-one on tickets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the following 12 months through its Meerkat Movies scheme. Most big cinemas participate, as do some smaller independents. You can get two-for-one Odeon tickets if you subscribe to The Times – prices start from £12 for a 12-week subscription – which you can use on Saturdays or Sundays.
5. Cash in your loyalty points
You can use your supermarket loyalty points to save money at the cinema. Clubcard vouchers can be converted into tickets for Cineworld, Odeon or MovieHouse cinemas. For an adult ticket at Cineworld, you need £4.50 in vouchers, for a ticket for Odeon you need £3.50, while £2.50 in vouchers is enough for a ticket to MovieHouse.
Alternatively, you can cash in your Nectar points for money off tickets at Vue cinemas.
6. Go midweek
Some cinemas offer cheaper tickets if you go at less busy times. For example, certain Cineworld cinemas offer Bargain Tuesdays or ‘Saverday’ discounts, though the exact size of the discount varies.
Elsewhere, Empire cinemas has ‘Last Chance to See’ Thursdays, screening films at the end of their run at a discounted price, while Odeon offers ‘Supersaver’ tickets at most of its cinemas, providing cinemagoers with cheaper tickets before 5pm from Monday to Thursday.
7. Free preview screenings
You may be able to get your hands on tickets for free screenings of films before they are officially released and are available from websites such as Showfi lmfi rst.com. Just register your details and you will be contacted about screening previews by email.
They are generally only showing at a handful of cinemas, so you may need to wait before one is showing near you.