If you’ve decided to buckle down and finally create a budget, you may be thinking that your days of having fun are over. But living on a budget doesn’t mean having to live without entertainment. Wisely allocating your entertainment expenses is very doable and a crucial part of successful money management. That's why a movie theater subscription plan might represent the best of both worlds for a dedicated cinephile.
How to Budget Entertainment
Gone are the days of five-cent nickelodeons and ten-cent popcorn boxes. If you’re looking to catch a film nowadays, you can expect to pay $20 or more per person. Granted, we can’t tell you how much you should budget for entertainment without knowing your income and other expenses. Still, if you’re looking for ways to stretch your entertainment dollars, a monthly movie ticket subscription service is one of the most budget-friendly options out there.
Monthly plans are budget-friendly options for two reasons. First, they bring savings. Most subscription plans pay for themselves after one or two movies a month. If you already have a general sense of how often you go to the movies, this can help you save a bundle on ticket prices. Second, in a world of unpredictable expenses, a theater membership comes with a set cost every month — no blowing up your budget for summer blockbusters or December Oscar-bait.
If you’re looking for fun ways to spend that extra holiday cash or something useful to gift a loved one, a theater subscription may be the best way to go.
Which Movie Theater Subscription Is Best?
Here’s a look at some of the most popular movie theater subscriptions and what all they offer.
Regal Unlimited Movie Subscription Pass
Regal Cinemas has a three-tiered subscription plan: the Regal Unlimited, Regal Unlimited Plus, and Regal Unlimited All Access.
- Regal Unlimited: This plan is $18+tax per month and gives you access to unlimited movies at more than 200 select theaters.
- Regal Unlimited Plus: With this next level subscription, you’ll pay $21+tax monthly and enjoy unlimited movies at more than 400 Regal theaters.
- Regal Unlimited All Access: The highest level subscription will grant you access to unlimited movies at all 550+ Regal locations for $23.50+ tax per month.
The difference between these three subscription packages lies in the number of theaters. For example, the Regal Unlimited Plus plan will grant you access to every Regal location in Texas. If you purchase a lower price-tier package and wish to visit a theater not included with your account, expect to pay a surcharge between $1.50-$3 per ticket on top of your monthly fee.
All tiers come with the following program perks:
- See as many movies as you want, when you want, and where you want with no blackout dates;
- 10% off non-alcoholic drinks and food;
- Free popcorn and soft drink on your birthday;
- Regal Crown Club credits you can redeem discounts.
Not too bad, especially for frequent movie-goers.
AMC Stubs A-List
The main draw to AMC Theaters’ Stubs A-List subscription program is the three free movies per week with no blackout dates.
Like Regal’s three-tiered pricing, your Stubs A-List membership price will depend on what theaters you plan to visit. To see movies in 34 states - including Texas - you’ll pay $19.95+tax monthly. If you want access to theaters across all states nationwide, the membership is $23.95+tax per month.
With A-List, you’ll get all the same benefits of AMC’s free loyalty program and Stubs Premiere ($15+tax per year) like free size upgrades, waived online ticketing fees, Discount Tuesdays, points, and other perks.
Cinemark Movie Club
Cinemark Movie Club is a straightforward movie subscription program with the following benefits for $8.99*+tax per month:
- One free 2D movie ticket per month that roll over if unused;
- Waived online fees;
- 20% off concessions;
- Member pricing for additional tickets purchased.
You’ll also get the same benefits that the free Movie Fan program receives. This program includes redeemable points, advanced tickets, and refills for your food and drink.
*Pricing may vary depending on your location.
If you’re a fan of the Alamo Drafthouse movie and dining experience, your time is almost here. The Austin-based theater chain is currently beta-testing its version of a movie subscription— the Alamo Season Pass. This pass allows you to purchase a single ticket up to seven days in advance and even allows you to bundle a Season Pass ticket together with additional tickets.
Currently, Alamo's Season Pass program is technically only available to customers in Yonkers and Kansas City. Everyone else must sign up on a waitlist for the chance to join. That being said, a quick look at social media shows that more Austin residents are being added to the Season Pass beta test every day, so there's no reason not to sign up for their waitlist today.
So which is the best subscription program?
It depends on how many movies you plan on seeing.
If you’re a serious film buff, who would go to the movies every day if given a chance, you’ll get your money’s worth with Regal Unlimited or AMC’s Stubs A-List. But if you’re the type who goes to the movies only once a month, a program like the Cinemark Movie Club might be more up your alley.
You might also take distance and theater preference into consideration. One plan may be a few dollars cheaper but also mean driving across town, costing you time and gas. Are the seats down south really that much different?
Other Loyalty Programs and Deals
If you’re a casual movie-goer who may only pop into a theater a few times a year, a subscription will likely end up costing you more than necessary. This approach doesn’t mean you can’t find savings, though. Many theaters offer free loyalty reward programs and exclusive deals. Take a look at some offerings at other Central Texas theaters.
By joining the Galaxy Loyalty program, you’ll receive exclusive offers, invitations, ticket pre-sales, and other discounts. You can also collect points to be redeemed on concession items or tickets.
If you’ve ever wished you could go to the cinema and brewery at the same time, then Flix Brewhouse is for you. With their loyalty program, The Circle, you’ll get 10% off food and non-alcoholic drinks, a free birthday ticket, and earned points for future discounts.
Moviehouse & Eatery
While Moviehouse & Eatery doesn’t have a loyalty program, they do have Deal Days. You’ll find perks like discounted movie tickets on Mommy (and Daddy) Mondays and Well-Seasoned Wednesdays, as well as daily military and matinee discounts.
A trip to the movies can be an excellent self-reward that doesn’t have to come with outrageous prices. With movie theater subscriptions and loyalty programs, you can be sitting back and enjoying the show, knowing that you spent your money wisely.