Simple Tips To Save Money At The Movies

Updated: June 27, 2023

Watching a movie is one of the most common activities we do with friends and family. It’s a great way to spend time with them and do some bonding.

Personally, going to the cinemas has been my way to unwind after a busy schedule. For a few hours, I escape reality and immerse myself in another world. I guess there’s really truth to the saying, “Relax. See a movie.”

My habit of regularly watching movies started when I was in college. I lived in a dormitory just a few steps away from the university cinema, the UP Film Center. So there was no need to go out of the campus and visit the mall.

Every day, there’s a new film showing in that place – from the most recent box office hits to film classics and even the most sought-after uncut versions of controversial films. It’s no wonder I became a movie buff.

Through the years, the costs of going to the movies have significantly risen. That’s why I make sure that I plan my expenses so that I would always have a budget to go to the cinemas.

Furthermore, I have also been able to come up with some simple ways to lessen my spending without compromising the entertainment value of my movie experience. Below are my proven tips:


Read the critics and solicit movie reviews from friends.

It’s frustrating to watch a bad movie. So it’s good to know what others think about a film before you see it. There are a lot of online movie reviews available. Search and read what the critics say – just be careful not to stumble into spoilers, which could ruin the story for you.

Perhaps a better idea is to ask people who have seen the movie about their recommendations. However, I would advise you to ask the opinion of those with whom you share the same interests and have similar tastes when it comes to movies.

Be aware of free screenings, ticket contests, and movie promos.

I’m fortunate to have a friend who works for a radio station because I usually get free advance screening tickets. However, if you don’t know anyone from the media, you can always join contests and participate in promos to get a chance to win complimentary movie tickets.

Moreover, read the newspaper and online entertainment forums for free screening schedules in your area. Especially watch out for film festivals where you can catch independent and art films at a minimal cost.

Rent the film and just watch it at home.

Watching at home with friends can be more fun than going to the cinema. I’ve spent numerous weekends with mine doing movie marathons. It’s really a lot cheaper. Furthermore, I believe that some films are better seen in the privacy of your own home.

I watch movies filled with heavy drama alone in my room so I can cry during heartbreaking moments without the need to feel embarrassed. Also, I prefer just renting out “guilty pleasure” films. These are movies that most people say they don’t want to see but secretly wish otherwise. I know you know what these movies are.

Watch at off-peak times.

I’m a big fan of the “first full show.” Yes, I try to avoid the night schedule because this is when most people go to watch movies. Thus, cinemas tend to charge premium fees for the tickets.

Some local theaters offer cheaper prices for the mid-day and afternoon screenings. Try to take advantage of these. Also, watch films several days or a week after their release. Cinema houses tend to lower ticket prices for movies that have been running for some time already.


Know the exact screening time.

This is a technique I always use to save some money when going to the cinema. I check online or call the cinemas to know the exact screening schedule of the movie which I’m planning to watch because it helps me avoid wasting long hours waiting for the movie to start.

Since most of the movie houses in the Philippines are inside the mall, coming on time gives me no excuse to walk around and window shop. Thus, I avoid the temptation to buy something impulsively.

Ask if the movie house offers discounts.

Some cinemas offer bulk ticket prices for groups while some have loyalty memberships cards which you can use to avail of special discounts. In the Philippines, Ayala Cinemas have the M-Pass card, while SM Supermalls sell lower ticket prices to SM Advantage members.

Ask your favorite movie house if they offer any. Most of the time, these privileges are not largely advertised, and you’ll be surprised that they exist. But of course, always remember that there are Senior Citizen and PWD discounts.

Bring your own snacks.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the snacks being sold at the cinemas are really expensive. If you want to save money, come a little early so you’ll have time to buy them at the grocery, where it’s cheaper.

Better yet, make some sandwiches at home and just bring those to the theater. Probably the best way to be frugal about this is to simply watch without snacks. I do this sometimes, actually. Yes, it may be a little boring to see a movie without some munchies, but it isn’t all that bad.

I guess that’s it. How about you? Do you know any more money-saving tips when going to the movies? Please share them below as a comment. Lastly, if you want to receive more money-saving tips, then please subscribe to Ready To Be Rich. Thanks.


  1. I am sorry Fitz, but I laughed when I saw this post. I did not realize there are still movies to watch.

    Know what? when I was a student, I see to it that I have free hours every Thursday because I watch weekly. Now, I cannot remember the last time I saw one, in the movie houses.

    I still remember following your tips that time, but I think the most applicable is learning from the critics before watching.

    In case you did not know, there was once a good movie critic that Filipinos love. He is Mario Hernandez from the former Movie Magazine (CH 7 – Kapuso of course! lol!). This show is every Saturday, if my memory search me right.

    Oh! Those were the days, my friend. Now, with rampant piracy and monopoly (isn’t that most of the independent good movie houses closed because of SM and the like), nobody cares about award giving bodies like FAMAS and URIAN. Pustahan tayo, di mo na alam kung sino ang huling nanalo sa FAMAS! Samantalang dati, talk of the town yun, ginawa pa lang yung movie.

    By the way, I am proud to tell you na dati akong lagarista (yes, parang Piolo Pascual!) nung high school, sideline ko pandagdag baon din.

    Lastly, I do not think that the favorite phrase of moviegoers before – Relax, See a Movie is still applicable. I heard 110 pesos na daw sine ngayon, sayang din yun, pambili ng 2 1/2 kilong bigas!


  2. Hi guardian angel,

    Yes, going to the movies has become quite expensive nowadays. P110 is actually close to the lower limit of ticket prices here in Manila. Some of the best movie houses go as high as P160 per head.

    In any case, I think foreign (Hollywood) movies have remained consistent in their quality and of course, the advances in special effects have made a lot of films a spectacular visual treat.

    When it comes to local movies, I believe that the Philippine cinema industry has matured a lot through the years. Both GMA Films and Star Cinema have produced a number of good, quality movies for the past years. Additionally, independent film makers are now being given more attention and opportunities to showcase their fantastic works.

    Overall, I think that there are still movies worth watching. Films which I am willing to pay to see on the big screen. And this is the reason why I always allot a portion of my budget for entertainment. It may not rank as high on the priorities list such as food expenses, but it’s there. After all, what’s the point of living if you can’t enjoy it.

    Relax. See a movie. πŸ˜€

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It was really appreciated.

  3. i love watching movies lalo na kung sa magandang sinehan katulad sa g4 o sa atc. pero lately, sa net nalang kse mahal talaga o manghiram na lang ng dvds. punta lang ako ng sinehan kapag sulit talaga. yung tipong tlor, pirates. ehhehe

  4. Movie tickets are really getting expensive nowadays. I completely agree with you Fitz that “the snacks being sold at the cinemas are really expensive.” In my case, me and my friends would usually go to Jollibee or McDo to buy snacks before going inside the moviehouse since it’s permitted by the ushers. I wouldn’t pay for a Php60 popcorn or even a Php50 for a soda even if it’s right beside the cinema..hehe! (kuripot) but yeah! sayang talaga, may burger at fries at drinks ka na nun kung sa Jabi..hehe!

  5. Fitz,

    Bro, sa hirap ng buhay ngayon wala na sa kin yang panonood ng sine (tumanda na ang lolo mo. hak hak hak!)

    You’re right, renting is a much better alternative to going to the movies. Malaking katipiran talaga yun. πŸ˜‰

  6. I go to the movies like …. 4 times a year. More or less. I don’t watch alone and I only usually just watch with my close friends. Other than that, I download movies and sync-watch with someone. πŸ˜€ Kinda like watching a movie with someone at the same time even if he’s at the other side of the world! \o/

  7. nice tips. i always bring my own food whenever i go to the cinemas. right now, i am fine with home movie marathon or just watch them online.

  8. Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts on this. Indeed, there are lots of ways to watch movies online, you just have to be resourceful at it. πŸ™‚

  9. Another tip is to check with institutions you do business with to see if they offer discount coupons. My bank has a program where I but tickets from them for $2 less than at the theater.

    Check it out!

  10. Another tip: Avoid passing by the stalls that sell character toys and t-shirts of the movie you just watched. We had this experience when my son and husband decided to buy two transformer toys after watching the Transformer movie last year. We literally shelled out no less than one thousand pesos for that movie!

  11. @BeThisWay

    That’s true. Some credit cards and club memberships give out special movie privileges every now and then. Thanks for sharing that information.


    That’s good advice, thanks! The temptation to buy promotional items and merchandise is really high during the run of the film. Better avoid these stalls when going to the cinemas, specially after watching the movie. πŸ™‚

  12. […] path – a dying rich relative. Moreover, after seeing how dramatic these situations can become in movies and soap operas, I’d rather conserve my time and energy to other ways of becoming rich. […]

  13. Be a member of Video City. 15php per VCD Title. 25-30 php for their DVDs. Marami pa kayong makakapanuod.

  14. wow thanks for the post may online sched pala ng movies…haha…

    good for you, you always receive free tickets =P

    “For SM Advantage, members can enjoy discounts and freebies from their various partner establishments such as Jollibee”

    about your post in another page… really sm advantage canbe use for jolibee? hehe

  15. I am indeed one hell of a movie buff. I watch movies almost every week. Unfortunately, I don’t get free movie tickets like those bloggers in Manila. I wish the have one for a buff like me considering I am into movie blogging. πŸ™‚

    By the way, this is Pinay Mommy from Bacolod aka The Movie Mommy too! πŸ™‚

  16. Hi!

    I just want to share my own way of money saving tip in movie watching. Since the people who can access this site have internet connection, why don’t they use torrents download. I just download movies from different sharing sites. The only setback is that you will have to wait 2 weeks to 2 months for a clear copy of the movie unless it’s also ok with you to watch less quality film then you can watch the movie as it is also aired in the movie houses. What I usually do is take note of the movie title (I have a very long list of movies to download), and then take time to download them. If you are using a higher speed internet connection such as DSL, you will have your movie ready at the most 4 hours download time. But if you have slower internet connection, then it’ll take you upto 3 days. Well, if you’re 24/7 online, this is a sure way to save money from movies. You can do other things in your pc while it is in the process of downloading. I hope this helps!

    Relax and enjoy the movies! (^_^)

  17. In Manila, senior residents (with Senior Citizens ID) get to watch movies for free! On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, a week after a movie is shown. My mom doesn’t watch a movie unless it’s already free. ^_^

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