Same Entertainment, Only Cheaper

TheaterIn my non-working time I like to vary between being productive and doing as little as possible.  This way I can enjoy my time off just as much as I enjoy my day job.  One of my favorite things to do in my non-productive time is to watch movies.  I am certainly not a classic movie buff, nor am I the type to be overly critical of a movie.  I expect to be entertained and I appreciate a movie that either makes me think or especially makes me want to watch it several more times.

Most recently I have been on a theater kick with the summer blockbuster movies rolling out.  Because of the glut of available movies I have had to become more selective about which movies I’ll be watching on the silver screen and which movies I’ll be watching on my big screen TV at home.  With theater prices going up lately I have spent some time re-evaluating the value of a movie on the silver screen.

Almost everyone I know enjoys seeing movies at the theater.  Their only problem is how much it can cost to see a movie.  The worst part is you can rent the movie only a few months from now for a little as $5 and see it at home.  Everything is cheaper at home though and when I am going out I am not comparing the cost of going out with the cost of staying home, I am comparing the various going out possibilities.

A typical night out a the theater starts with the movie tickets.  These cost $12.50 lately and I can only expect the price will head upwards.  Most movies are around 2 hours long so each movie has a base cost of $6.25 per hour.  Now I know some people who sneak into the movie theater at the very last minute and have to accept whatever seats may still be available for them.  I am not that type of person, when I spend money on something I expect to wring full value out of it.  So I will ensure I arrive at least a half hour before the show.

Having someone to go to the theater with can assist with feeling like you received more value from your purchase.  While it may actually increase your cost (if you are paying for them), having another person to talk to and discuss the movie afterward does increase the value I receive from a movie.  I have found that by bringing someone along I find I will spend an extra hour before the movie and often at least a half hour after the movie talking with this person.  Since this outing/enjoyment is part of the movie experience I consider it to be part of the time paid for with the ticket.  That adjusts my base cost of seeing a movie to around $3.60 an hour.

I know most people reading will be saying to themselves about now, you haven’t discussed the biggest expense of seeing a movie, the snacks.  The movie theater has certainly managed to create an art out of charging people outrageous prices for snack foods.  With a small pop costing $4 and various other snacks costing at least as much you could be in for at least another $10 per person.  This will almost double your cost per hour.  At this point most people (including myself) find it difficult to accept the cost of a movie.  I find that the sound of your empty wallet tends to drown out the movie.

To adjust for this I have found that you need to make one of 4 choices.

  1. Don’t purchase snacks
  2. Bring your own snacks
  3. Don’t go often to the movies and just ignore the costs
  4. Find an alternative

Most people have tried the first three, and they do work quite well.  The real problem is how enjoyable popcorn is.  The sound of it popping, the smell and the taste are a big part of the full theater experience.  I find it can be hard to give up on that and I would like my wallet to stop screaming in pain.  So I had to work with option number 4.

Most of the major movie chains sell movie tickets through alternative sources.  This can be online or a local club of some sort.  I have actually found at least 4 sources for discount movie tickets and I am sure that you can too.  My personal favorite place to find the tickets are at Costco, they have started to carry movie passes that not only save you money on admission, but also include your snacks.  My favorite part is the total cost including snacks is actually less than the cost of admission.  Now I can go to the movies with an entertainment cost of $3.60 an hour.

I don’t know of many entertainment options that costs less per hour than a movie.  Next time you go out and have fun, take a look at your entertainment cost per hour.  By minimizing my cost per hour I have expanded my entertainment budget and now I get to enjoy far more fun than ever before.

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