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How to save money at the movies

Few experiences make us feel more like paupers than forking over a Jackson for a night at the movies. What gives? Why does catching a flick cost so much more than it used to?

In 2007, the average U.S. movie ticket cost $6.88, up from $4.59 a decade earlier. If you live in a metropolitan area like Tampa Bay, where tickets that cost $8 to $10 are the norm, those prices actually sound great.

And it probably wouldn't surprise you to learn that $5 sodas and popcorns are where theaters make a lot of their profits. One food service expert told the Boston Globe last fall that the profit margin on snacks at the movies is probably 85 percent. Tips on saving money at the movies

Purchase tickets in bulk

Big-box discount stores like Costco offer a few bucks' worth of savings when you buy more than one ticket. If you're a member of AAA, you can save more than 20 percent on a 10-pack if you're willing to wait a couple of weeks after opening weekend to see a movie.

See more matinees

Just be sure you know what, exactly, constitutes a "matinee" these days. At some theaters it's all movies before 5 p.m.; at others the cutoff time is 3 p.m.

Bring your own snacks

Although if you haven't already been doing this since The Matrix came out, you probably deserve to get ripped off.

Hit a cheaper theater

You may not get stadium seating and deafening surround sound, but many small theaters do show first-run movies.

Some of Tampa Bay's cheaper theaters

Beach Theatre Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students, children under 12, and adult matinees (before 5 p.m.). On June 28, it's '70s Day, and they're showing Jaws for $2 a ticket. 315 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach. (727) 360-6697,

AMC Tri-City 8 On weekends, it's $8 for adults and $4 for children, but from Monday to Thursday, all tickets are $4. 5140 East Bay Drive, Largo. (727) 531-2882.

Clearwater Cinema Cafe Tickets are $6.50 for adults and $5 for children, students and seniors. 24095 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater. (727) 799-3531,

Drive-ins If you feel like making the drive, the Ruskin Drive-In is $5 per person over age 9, $1 for ages 5 to 8. 5011 U.S. 41 N, Ruskin. (813) 645-1455, Tampa's Fun-Lan Drive-In is $6 per adult, $2 for children ages 4 to 9. 2302 E Hillsborough Ave., Tampa. (813) 234-2311,

How to save money at the movies 06/12/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 12, 2008 6:53pm]
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