Cut the cost of your film fix

Published by Emma Lunn on 22 September 2008.
Last updated on 31 January 2017


Traditionally, film fans had few choices when it came to keeping up with the latest releases – either make a trip to the cinema, wait for the film to arrive in the local video shop or wait even longer for it to be shown on terrestrial TV.

But today’s movie buffs have many options, such as downloading or streaming films from the internet, watching them on pay-per-view TV or ordering a DVD through the post. But which option is the most cost-effective?


A night at the flicks is still the most social way to see the latest releases, but the money involved can really add up. A weekend trip for two to a central London cinema can set you back £38. But there are ways of cutting costs

Make a small purchase via CompareTheMarket and you'll enjoy two cinema tickets for the price of one on Tuesdays or Wednesdays for a full year thanks to its Meerkat Movies scheme.

If you’re a regular cinema-goer, why not consider an unlimited pass? Cineworld’s Unlimited Card starts at £17.40 a month and you can see as many films as you like. Odeon has its own version, the Limitless card, which starts at £17.99 a month, while Showcase Cinemas and Picturehouse Cinemas have their own membership schemes too.

Many cinemas offer cheap films for different age groups at certain times during the week. For example, Vue runs Mini morning screenings every weekend, with tickets costing £2.49 each. Odeon Kids costs £2.50 a child, while Cineworld runs Movies for Juniors screenings with prices starting at £2. For over-50s some cinemas offer ‘silver screen’ clubs during the day and combine cut-price admission with free refreshments.

Finally, sneak your own snacks into the cinema. The alternative is being charged astronomical prices for popcorn, sweets and drinks. 

For more tips, read Seven ways to slash the cost of going to the cinema


Streaming services

Streaming services, which allow you to stream films or TV onto your TV or mobile device, have taken off in recent years.

Netflix is the biggest name, and costs between £5.99 and £8.99 a month depending on the level of service you go for. You can get a month’s free trial too, while Netflix has just added a new feature allowing you to download certain films or shows to watch on the go, without having to worry about using up your data allowance.

Amazon has its own rival, Amazon Prime Video. It costs £5.99 a month, but you get it free with an Amazon Prime subscription, which costs £79 a year and comes with a host of additional features like free next day delivery, Amazon Prime Music and lots of free books in the Kindle library. It also has a 30-day free trial so you can give it a try.

Both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video can be viewed on smart TVs, via games consoles and streaming sticks, as well as mobile devices.

Now TV is a slightly different rival service, owned by Sky. With it, you can buy a monthly Sky Cinema pass, allowing you to enjoy Sky’s movie service without having to shell out on a full Sky package. It costs £9.99 a month, and comes with a 14-day free trial. You can also buy an entertainment pass (£6.99 a month) or a Sky Sports pass (£33.99 a month).

You can also choose to pay for individual films through Google Play or iTunes. The latest movie releases can be rented for as little as £3.49 or bought outright for around £7.99.

It’s important to bear in mind that these services will make a dent in your broadband usage allowance. It may be worth shopping around for a new deal with a higher allowance, or even one offering unlimited usage, if you plan on making the most of one of them.

DVD rental services

In the old days, film fans who wanted to watch the latest blockbusters in the comfort of their own homes had to first make a trip to the local video store to see what was in stock. Then, after viewing, they had to return the video or DVD on time to avoid a fine.

Postal DVD services have changed all that. Customers pay a monthly fee, by direct debit, which in turn offers you between one and five DVDs at any one time. You create a ‘wish list’ of films online and the company starts to post your chosen titles out to you. You watch them at your leisure and then send them back.

Lovefilm is arguably the best known DVD rental service and has around 80,000 titles on offer. It also powers DVD rental services offered by Tesco, WHSmith and Amazon. 

It costs between £4.99 and £11.99 per month depending on how many DVDs you want to be able to rent at any one time, though you can get a discount if you are a member of Amazon Prime - Lovefilm was bought by Amazon a couple of years ago. You can get a 30-day free trial.

Its main rival now is Cinema Paradiso, which claims to have over 90,000 titles on offer. It costs between £6.98 and £19.98 a month depending on how many titles you want to be able to rent at any one time.

"Many companies offer free trials," says a Which? spokesperson. "But you need to be sure to cancel, and return all DVDs, before the first payment’s due or you’ll be charged."


Digital TV

If you have digital TV or a Freeview box then you’ll already have free access to FilmFour, the film arm of Channel 4, although you don’t have any choice over which films are shown and when.

Some TV services, such as Sky, Virgin Media and BT, also have the option of subscribing to movie channels or paying for each film you watch.


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