I am a complete sucker for movies. It’s such an easy and fun way to spend time with friends – it gives you something to talk about and discuss over during lunch or dinner, plus it’s sometimes really tempting to go see the latest blockbuster before some people or as soon as possible ’cause you just don’t want to be “that guy” who hasn’t watched the movie when all your other friends are discussing crucial details on scenes and just giving away spoilers by the bucket-load. Hence, it’s always easy to get carried away with watching dozens of movies every month on its premiere day.
Well, I don’t know about you, but it’s difficult to have to sort out your bag at the end of the year and realise how many movie ticket stubs are just lying waste in random nooks and crannies. Even worse to do a mental calculation of how much money you probably spent throughout the entire year on movies. No wait, even worse, if you have one of those apps where you have a legitimate record of how much you spend on entertainment per month.
According to this The Nest blog, the average American spent around $560 in the year 2009 on entertainment such as movies. This roundabout average is confirmed by this interesting pie chart provided by Visual Economics, which pulls up the average to around $606. That’s a lot of money spent on a movie you probably won’t remember two to three years down the road. Like, come on, tell me, do you honestly remember the entire plot (let alone the name of the main protagonist) of forgettable rom-coms such as Life as We Know It or The Ugly Truth? The correct answer here is ‘no’. No you do not.
So here are some easy steps to saving your money and time on movies that you’re probably going to end up watching for no other reason than to waste money (money that could be better spent on – anything really):
1. Have A Very Specific Understanding of What Kind of Movies You Like
This really isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Especially, when it comes to Hollywood movies which are often times formulaic.
First, understand what genres you are willing to pay money for: action, adventure, animation, biography, comedy, crime, drama, family, fantasy, history, horror, musicals, mystery, romance, sci-fi, sport, thriller, war, westerns? (Yes, I labelled all the genres available at Imdb.com.) For me, I know I’m more likely to pay money to watch an animation by Pixar than a mindless action-gun-violence sequence movie that I’ll probably forget what the plot is about in a year’s time.
Also, have a good understanding of the crew behind some of your favourite movies. Chances are, if you loved one of their works, you’re going to love another movie they’re going to put out in the future (minus the case of M. Night Shyamalan – he’s peaked already). And this is the same for those you hate. You’ll come to realise that you prefer one director’s style over another’s. Also, look at scriptwriters. They can be crucial on whether the movie’s lines are cringe worthy or thought-provoking. This may seem like such a chore, but it really isn’t. Just look at a few of your favourite movies and note some familiar names.
Trust me, after you’ve done some movie soul-searching, you won’t be willing to spend your money on a movie which your gut is telling you you won’t like. Plus you’ll have a better idea on what makes up a good movie.
2. Do Quick Review Research Into A Potential Movie Before Deciding
I know some people may not like the idea of this as they like going into a movie with a blank slate (which is kind of impossible in today’s society), but hear me out. Sometimes some analysis of a movie’s forecast can really determine whether you want to watch a movie now or later and not only determine whether or not you’re going to spend money on a show, but also how much money.
Usually I classify any movie above 6 at Imdb.com to be at least worthy to watch in the cinemas. Anything above 7 is worth watching closer to the release date. And if it has an astonishing 8 or 9 rating then it’s probably worth watching on the release date (you know, before spoilers come out).
As for Rotten Tomatoes, I usually classify anything with fresh tomatoes alright to watch in cinemas – but Rotten Tomatoes is always difficult to judge as critics may oppose the audience’s opinions. The best thing to go for in Rotten Tomatoes is to scroll down on the movie’s page and read some of the short reviews; look at the overall pattern on keywords and see whether the good trumps the bad or vice versa.
Metacritic is a bit more straightforward. Anything in the green zone is a yes, anything in the yellow is a toss-up and self-decision and anything in red is forgettable.
Either way, like driving down a fast highway, it’s good to know whether you’re going to be turning up the engine and enjoying an adrenalin ride or headed for a cringe-worthy traffic-induced accident waiting for you just a mile down.
3. Decide Between Opening Night, Next Few Weeks or *Cough cough*
I honestly haven’t watched anything on opening night itself in a while now. That spot is only reserved for fan girl moments when movie spoilers are my main threat to my sanity e.g. Harry Potter. But for some people, who just love the thrill of watching a movie on opening night, I suggest that you really decide on those huge blockbusters to spend your money on them. For instance, for this week’s movies, I hope no one wasted their money on R.I.P.D on opening night as much as they loved Ryan Reynolds and those kinds of movies.
Why? (And I’m speaking in respect to my own country here – not sure about yours but) the cost of tickets is the most expensive on opening night, followed by Fridays and weekends. Now, aren’t cinemas clever at making opening nights on Thursdays? This means you have to wait a good four days before you can get cheaper tickets for your movies. And, come on, who has time to watch a movie on a Monday when you’re worrying about school and work.
The best trick to have is patience and good avoidance skills. The second trick is the next step (besides the censored trick provided in the headline – but I’ll leave that option up to you).
4. Discounts, Deals, Coupons and Memberships
If you know you’re a complete movie junkie, it’s good to look into these outlets. Cinemas sometimes have deals which are actually really good and will save you a lot of money in the long run. Once again, I’m not too sure about your local cinema if you’re in a country which is not my own, but here are some tips for those who do live in my country and which you can see if your cinema has similar deals.
One of them is student discounts (if you’re a student). I don’t think I qualify for them anymore – but heck, I can always try with my student card. Student cards are really good during off-peak days. Cinemas like The Cathay in my country have student discounts every weekday before 6pm at $7 which includes a complimentary coke.
Another way is to get a membership with a cinema. This enables you special privileges (and sometimes does not cost anything), like Golden Village, which gives members tickets at $6.50 on Tuesday along with other entitlements.
But besides this there are also many other deals that cinemas can have which you can check out on the promotion section of their website.
5. A Desperate Friend
This is a funny little step that I’ve found has sometimes resulted in a free movie for myself – sometimes not the movie I want to watch (okay, scratch that, definitely not the movies I’ve wanted to watch) but a movie nonetheless.
You’ll sometimes hang out with a friend who hasn’t watched a movie and desperately wants to check it out. Chances are this occurrence is more likely to happen when there is a male friend and you’re a girl. He’ll really want to watch this brainless action movie which you have no attention to check out; in my case it has included Taken 2 and G.I. Joe: Retribution. You’ll refuse maybe three or four times on watching it and then he’ll come to a breaking point where he’ll offer to pay for your ticket just so he has company to see this stupid film. You oblige and voila, free movie.
My boyfriend has done this all the time to me, and in return I’ve tortured him with Breaking Moon Part I – a movie neither of us enjoyed, frankly, and Beautiful Creatures.
At the end of the day, there are many ways to ensure that you don’t waste your money on a movie you know you won’t enjoy. Save your money during the off-peak/”dry period” movie months where terrible filler movies that probably mean nothing to you occupy the cinemas (curse you Epic Movie, you were not “epic” in the least). Instead, look at all the potential awesome upcoming blockbusters that you could watch during the summer.
Lastly, if there is a movie you’re mildly interested in but don’t want to watch in cinemas, add it to a list of potential movies to watch on rainy days. Your wallet will thank you, and you will honestly thank yourself from the disappointment of walking out the cinema after paying for something that ended up being absolute crap.
I hope this was helpful in some way or another! And till next time,