Spend Less And See More At The Cinema

Movies are better on the big screen, but cinema attendance can be expensive and filled with hassles. Our guide will get you from the box office to the credits like a pro.

Photos by Paul Haeberlin, Denise Mattox, uberculture, Digital Third Eye

Get Tickets For Less

Going to the movies is not a cheap experience; for a family, paying for the tickets can often be more expensive than waiting to buy the DVD. There are some well-tested tactics that can help, however.

Cheap nights definitely help. For most Australian movie chains, the cheapest night is Tuesday, but this can vary, especially if your local cinema isn't owned by one of the major chains. Choosing a non-3D screening can also cut costs (though depending on the movie these may be rare or non-existent).

The second key strategy is to buy bulk books of tickets at discounted prices. These are often substantially cheaper, though you have to be sure to use them before the expiry date and check for conditions (Saturday sessions are often blocked). As well as the cinemas themselves, check for other sources (Optus customers, for instance, can buy discounted tickets for Event Cinemas; Telstra has a similar deal with a number of chains; and you may score deals through your union, insurer or roadside assistance club).

If you don't want to see brand-new flicks, drive-in passes are generally much cheaper. Check our map of Australian drive-ins to see if there's one near you.

Pick The Right Day

When you leave your house and head out into public, you lose the ability to control your surroundings. If you prefer a less crowded theatre, visit earlier in the week and aim for daytime sessions. If you want a more raucous crowd, midnight showings and release weekends are your best bet. Fridays and Saturdays are the busiest cinema days and, thus, the energy is highest.

Pick The Best Seat

There is no absolute rule for what the best seat in the theatre is. Wherever you're most comfortable is the best seat for you. However, if you want to get closer to what the theatre technicians intended, you'll want to get a seat roughly two-thirds of the way to the back of the auditorium, and as close to the centre as you can get. Most calibrations are made from this perspective.

Of course, since these seats offer the best view, they're naturally in high demand. If you want to make sure you get first choice, get to your theatre about 10 to 20 minutes early. Some chains assign seats when you book, but many don't.

Know When to Use the Restroom

There's almost never a good time to leave the theatre when you're watching a movie you like for the first time. There are, however, better times than others. If you have to use the restroom or want to get another snack, the RunPee app can give you mostly-spoiler-free suggestions on when you can walk out without missing important plot points. The app tells you the line that's your cue to leave, when it comes during the movie, and how long you have to get out, do what you need to do, and get back to your seat.

Just be sure to check before the movie starts. The last thing you want to do is upset your fellow patrons by pulling out a bright glowing rectangle while everyone else is trying to watch a different bright glowing rectangle.

Know When To Stay After the Credits

In some circles, it's polite to sit through the entire credits as a gesture of respect for the filmmakers. Most moviegoers do not observe this. However, sometimes there are bonus scenes after the credits as a reward for your patience. You can either discipline yourself to wait for a few minutes and find out for yourself, or use a service such as MediaStinger to find out which movies have 'stingers.' Without spoiling them, you can find out whether there are scenes during or after the credits that are worth waiting for.

Lifehacker's weekly Streaming column looks at how technology is keeping us entertained.


    The Optus deal has changed from Event cinemas to Hoyts (as well as some select independent cinemas). $10/ticket, which is more than my local Hoyts charges for tickets.

      The tickets at my Hoyts are $5.50 for me

    cheers for the mediastinger site

    Telstra/Bigpond customers
    Optus Customers
    can get $10 movie tickets at major movie chains.
    The main restriction is you can't see a movie after 5pm on Saturdays.
    You register, buy as many vouchers as you need, print vouchers, go to the cinema and hand over your voucher. You don't need to select which movie you're going to see when you buy the vouchers (well not with Optus anyhow, I'm not sure about Telstra/Bigpond).
    This is much better, cheaper than "Tight Arse Tuesday".
    BTW you can buy tickets for your friends, you don't need to prove you're an Optus customer when you turn up to the cinema!!

    $10 movie tickets for Event Cinemas are now offered through Telstra, not Optus. You can get $10 tickets through Optus for Hoyts and some other select cinemas.

    I always show up at the cinemas, order the tickets on my mobile, jump the queue, and have the barcode scanned from my mobile. It is the perfect system.

    Kino Cinema's in Melbourne at Collins place has $7 tickets on monday nights.

    Here's a wild and crazy idea if you live in a town with a university, support the university film group if there is one. When I lived in Canberra, joined the ANU Film Group http://www.anufg.org.au/ and for $40 a semester, I saw as many films as I wanted. I saw movies that I had never seen on the big screen, and films that I may never have watched unless they were at the Film Group and I had paid very little to see.

    With the cost of movie tickets in Australia, I pretty much only go to see big eye-candy productions. The chance of them having any worthwhile plot that could be spoilt by me going for a pee is negligible.

    Last edited 20/06/13 6:13 pm

    Anything After (iOS and Android) will also tell you if there is anything after the credits to watch..

    With $6 tickets for a different movie every week at Grand Cinemas ($30 membership fee), i find it pretty reasonable. You get 2 free movies every year plus other discounts so the $30.00 pays off by itself. May be available in WA only.

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