Dollars and Sense: 10 frugal ways to view movies

Check this deal. Take four people out to an evening movie; buy each a ticket, a small popcorn and a small drink for a total of $24. Where? Well, you are about to find out. The costly holidays are upon us, so let’s save some money on movies.

Suppose you are paying for two adults and two children. At many movie theaters, the evening ticket cost is $9.50 per adult, $5.50 per kid, $4.75 per small popcorn and $4.25 per small drink. That adds up to $66 (less with loyalty cups) with only enough popcorn to wedge hulls between your teeth. Pretty hefty.

Here are 10 ways to see movies for less money, loosely listed from the cheapest to the most expensive. If you find only one new way, you are a winner.

Regular TV viewing. The other night my insomnia won, and I turned on “Ben Hur.” I watched this movie amazed that a 1959 film could be so good. And that breathtaking chariot race nine times around the Circus Maximus! And Charlton Heston with blue eyes and uber sensitivity to women!

Free movie screenings. Yes, they are free, but fat chance of talking to any human-being employee about these. You’ll have a greater chance of winning the Powerball Jackpot. You have to check the websites for details. The first one is The others are and, and all three are for screenings in movie theaters.

Please, no throwing rotten tomatoes or hobnailed jackboots for my having only a few details on free screenings. I tried. Go early as free tickets exceed the number of available seats. Why free? They want to invite the press, to get audience feedback and to create word-of-mouth advertising. And you get to see movies before that braggart Buford at work.

Public library. Free--unless you are a hoarding scofflaw.

Red Box. These kiosks offer movies and games starting at $1 and are located in stores everywhere. Did you know that you can reserve movies and games? Look on line at for instructions and locations. Rent a movie one day, and return it by 9 p.m. the next evening. Phone: 1-866-733-2693.

Video subscriptions. Netflix offers movies through the Internet to your TV and other devices. Cost is $7.99 a month. Visit online. Hulu Plus also charges $7.99 a month offering movies and TV shows. Visit online.

TV movies on demand. Check prices with your cable or satellite provider. My pay-per-view cost for a movie is $6.99. Or get movies through by clicking on Amazon Instant Videos.

The Pollock Tempe Cinemas. This Hollywood museum has six screens with life-size mannequins of movie stars posing in the lobby. Pollock Tempe Cinemas at 1825 E. Elliott Road, southeast corner of Elliott and McClintock, sells all tickets for $3. Popcorn prices start at $2.75 and drinks start at $2.50. Tuesday is bargain day when tickets, small bags of popcorn and small drinks are $2 each. That’s the $24 family price I mentioned earlier. Wednesdays the 12:30 p.m. show is free. Pollock takes cash only, or use the ATM for a fee. (Thank you, Mr. Pollock.) Phone (480) 345-6461.

The Picture Show Theater. This Mesa theater is in the lower level of Superstition Springs mall behind the Cheesecake Factory (US 60 and Power Road.) The everyday ticket price is $2 with Tuesday’s price reduced to $1. (3D tickets are more.) Small bags of popcorn and small drinks are $3. On Tuesday your family of four pays $28 for tickets, popcorn and drinks. A Meal Deal costs $4 for 3 small items: drink, popcorn and candy. Even with eight screens, you may need to go early. Phone (480) 832-4302.

Matinee movies. If your day is a real bummer, slump off to a $7 matinee, usually before 6 p.m. If you are depressed, angry, or just plain-old bored, the cost of a movie is way cheaper than seeing a psychiatrist, raising bail, or going on a bender. When you need a movie now, you need it NOW.

Other ways. If you belong to Costco, pick up Harkins discount movie tickets for $7. Yeah, I know, there are other ways to see movies and to snack for cheaper, but you would have to confess some of them to a priest.

Well, I’m off to contemplate which actor is the best James Bond. Can anyone beat Sean Connery? Can Daniel Craig? Not even close.

• Linda Hutchings is a Gilbert resident and a life-long frugal consumer—uh, cheap skate. Please reach her at: Send her your penny-pinching ideas.