With summer unofficially here, Hollywood is rolling out a slew of sequels, blockbusters and indie films sure to satisfy most of our cravings for easy entertainment.
But if you haven't been to the movies in a while, you might be surprised to learn that prices at the box office are on the rise.
What's worse, said Andrea Woroch, a nationally recognized consumer and money-saving expert, is that movie-goers aren't likely to see any relief soon.
The inflated costs, however, don't have to deflate your desire to catch the season's best flicks.
For instance, Woroch said, budget-conscious movie fans can choose instead to stay home and order from the pay-subscription services Netflix and Hulu Plus or wait until the movie becomes available on cable.
"Instead of paying $8 to $10 per head, plus the outrageous cost of popcorn and soda, you can re-create movie night at home for just $5," she said.
Don't particularly care for that option? Try these, Woroch said:
Join AAA. The automobile club offers members tickets to Regal movie theaters for $7.25 to $8.25. The catch is that you have to go to one of AAA's offices to buy them. Go to Discover.aaa.com or call the Lexington AAA at (859) 219-3333 or (859) 233-1111 to learn more.
Buy movie packs. This is the way to go for families. You can buy a four-pack of tickets from Costco — good for a variety of theaters, including Cinemark and Regal — for $34.99. There's no expiration date, and you can use the tickets seven days a week. Even though the nearest Costco is in Louisville, members may buy the tickets at Costco.com and have them delivered by mail.
BulkTix.com sells discounted tickets for seven chains. That includes Cinemark, whose tickets are priced at $8.99 each. You must buy at least four tickets (for a total of $35.96), but there are bulk discounts for quantities of 10 or more.
Attend second-run theaters. There are several chains that show movies past their prime, including Lexington's Carmike 10, where tickets are $2, and the Cinemark Lexington Green Movies 8, where tickets are $1.50 to $3.50. If you can wait to see the latest iteration of a Marvel comic, you'll pay much less.
Ask for senior rates. Cinemark offers Seniors Day each Monday at some theaters for those 62 and older, including its cinemas at Fayette Mall, Lexington Green and Woodhill. The Kentucky Theatre offers $5 tickets to those 60 and older. Ask the cashier or the theater manager about available discounts, and be prepared to show your ID.
Skip the concession stand. Eat before going, so you won't be tempted by the smell of popcorn.
Use discount gift cards. Save 10 percent to 30 percent by buying discount movie theater gift cards from sites including Giftcardgranny.com, which has offers for Regal and Cinemark. In addition to saving instantly on ticket prices, you can cut the cost of concessions.
Swipe your plastic. Credit card companies and banks have increased reward perks during the past few years, and some include free theater passes. Visa Signature offers credit card holders two-for-one movie tickets via Fandango on Fridays. Deutsche Bank debit card users can get one free pass for every one ticket bought through Bookmyshow.com. Ask your credit card or bank about reward perks and take advantage of the discount.
Be loyal. Regal offers points toward discounts, concession upgrades and more if you join its Crown Club rewards program. Check with your local theater to see if they provide similar deals.
Daily deal it. The Web sites Groupon.com and LivingSocial.com feature movie savings of as much as 50 percent, and they are likely to offer similar promotions this summer. The vouchers typically expire within a couple of months, so take note of the date and use them before then.
Go local: The locally owned Kentucky Theatre offers regularly priced tickets that are almost always less expensive than the chain cinemas: $5 for matinees and $7 after 6 p.m. Tickets to its weekly Summer Classics Series are always $5. Drive-ins are less expensive, too.
Go to Woodhill: Matinees generally are $4.25, and evening shows are $6. All movies are first-run.
Early bird deals. Matinees can save you 30 percent to 50 percent on prime-time ticket prices, leaving more money in your wallet for warm summer evenings. Regal also has a summer program that offers $1 tickets to select G- or PG-rated movies at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays.