Going to the movies in NYC is expensive. Even in the “before times,” a night out at the cinema cost a pretty penny—average tickets for two people were hovering around $30 or $35. Now, it’s nearly $40 with single tickets at around $20 a piece at many theaters.
This presents a hurdle for many New Yorkers and paired with easy streaming at home and some lingering caution about safety at theaters, it’s often better to stay at home rather than go to the movies these days.
But a good deal certainly sweetens the deal.
Fortunately, there are many ways to actually see a movie on the cheap. Below, we outline seven ways to save money while catching a flick here in NYC.
1. Go early in the week
It may be fun to catch the newest blockbuster on the weekend like everyone else, but you can actually save by going early in the week.
Kew Gardens Cinemas has “Bargain Tuesdays and Thursdays” where all seats are $9 (except for special engagements and holidays); tickets are also $9 Monday to Friday until 5pm. Otherwise, tickets are $12.
Cinemart Cinemas in Forest Hills has $8 tickets all day on Tuesdays and until 5pm on Mondays through Fridays. Otherwise, it’s $11.
Alpine Cinema in Bay Ridge has $6 tickets every Wednesday and $7 tickets before 4pm Monday to Friday. Otherwise, tickets are $10.
2. Seek out cheaper, local theaters
Avoid the national chains and stay local. Go to your neighborhood cinema or travel to the next neighborhood over to score cheap tickets.
The cinemas above are all on the lower spectrum of movie ticket prices in addition to theaters like Spectacle in Williamsburg, which has tickets for just $5, with the exception of some special events, which are $10.
Nitehawk, even though tickets are $16, will email you a BOGO coupon after you purchase a regularly priced ticket (first run or repertory). Its event tickets are pretty affordable, too, at $10-16 for repertory screenings.
Sticking to local theaters helps you avoid other costs, too. For example, AMC now charges for better views with what it calls “Sightline,” a new tiered set-up that lets you purchase more expensive seats in the middle of the theater and less costly ones if opting for the first few rows. The new prices do not apply to screenings before 4pm or tickets sold at a discount on Tuesdays.
3. Go with your family or a group
It helps to go in a big group, because most cinemas offer some sort of discount if you buy them in bulk.
AMC Theaters offer discounted tickets to families with children (and discounted concession items on “Family Fun” days). Regal Cinemas has discounted tickets for families and concessions on “Value Days”.
More locally, Alamo Drafthouse has a “Kids Camp” program, where families can see classic and recent children’s films for $1-$5 per person during most holiday breaks. Sometimes Cinemark offers a “Family Day” program, where families can see a film at a discounted price.
And many cinemas offer discounts for groups of ten or more – just call or check the website before heading out.
4. Be loyal
More and more theaters are offering memberships, and they’re well worth investing in for regular moviegoers. Some offer cheap tickets and discounts on concessions, while others offer streaming access to films.
For example, if you’re an AMC Stubs Member, there are Discount Tuesdays where tickets are $5 a pop. AMC Stubs members can also get a $5 Cameo Combo (a cameo-sized fountain drink and popcorn) at any AMC or AMC Classic theater.
Regal also has its own Value Days for its Crown Club members on Tuesdays, where you can get $7 tickets and 50 percent off popcorn.
The Alamo Drafthouse Season Pass, which is $30 per month, allows you to see one free movie every day (3D, 70mm, Dolby Atmos, and Big Show movies require a $1.99 fee per ticket and standard online convenience fees apply). If you see two movies a week, for example, it’d be down to about $6 per movie. Even if you see two movies a month, that is still better than the usual cost.
Anthology Film Archives tickets are $7 instead of $12 with a membership ($50-70 per year) and you get free admission to all Essential Cinema screenings, exclusive invites to free Members-Only screenings and a 20 percent discount from its store.
Metrograph Cinema has memberships at $5 a month, $50 or $80 (dual) yearly that offers $10 tickets (usually $17), a discount of 10 percent at The Metrograph Commissary Restaurant and 10 percent off on all purchases at the Metrograph Bookstore.
Angelika owns three cinemas in NYC—Cinema 123 by Angelika, Village East by Angelika and Angelika New York—all of which you can use a membership card at to get free surprise screenings the first Wednesday of every month, half-off Tuesday where you get 50 percent of all tickets, 10 percent off food and drink and merch, and more.
The plethora of memberships goes to show you that almost every theater has a membership and moviegoing is a regular part of your outings in NYC, it is worth becoming a member somewhere.
5. Go to the matinée
Matinées aren’t just for families with young kids and the elderly. It’s actually a nice time to go because you have the rest of your day once you’re out and you can really save some bucks. Plus, movies with mature ratings are likely to be quieter and have more seats available.
Kew Gardens Cinemas’ tickets are $9 until 5pm Monday to Friday and on weekends until 2pm (except for special engagements and holidays). There aren’t bargain matinée prices for the first two weeks of Disney, Paramount and Sony pictures, unfortunately.
Alpine Cinemain Bay Ridge has $7 tickets before 4pm Monday to Friday. Otherwise, tickets are $10.
Over at AMC Theaters, you get 30 percent off tickets every day before 4pm, too.
6. Catch a classic or indie film
Oftentimes when theaters show classic films (that is, pretty much anything that came out a while ago), they don’t charge as much. If a night out to see an older, probably great film sounds appealing, head to these cinemas:
Film Forum in Greenwich Village is a nonprofit cinema that screens classic films, independent movies, and foreign films ($15 per person or $9 per member)
Metrograph on the Lower East Side, which has just two screens, shows a mix of classic and contemporary films, as well as special programming and events ($17 per person or $7 per member)
The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria screens classic films as part of its ongoing film series, as well as special screenings and events (starting at $10 per person)
The IFC Center in Greenwich Village screens a mix of independent and classic films, including revivals of classic movies and special events ($17)
Syndicated in Bushwick screens one movie a night and it’s typically a cult classic or a newer film that is no longer in theaters ($9)
Roxy Cinema in Tribeca shows classics and indie films and tickets are about $15.
7. Bring your ID for discounts
Many theaters have ongoing discounts for students, seniors and members of the military! You’ll just need to bring your ID with you to these cinemas:
AMC Theatres student and military discount: AMC 19th St. East 6, AMC 34th Street 14, AMC 84th Street 6, AMC Fresh Meadows 7, AMC Kips Bay 15, AMC Lincoln Square 13, AMC Magic Johnson Harlem 9 and AMC DINE-IN Staten Island 11
Village East student and boomer discounts: $14 tickets for students and $8 for those 55 and older
The Roxy Cinema senior, those with disabilities and students: $12
Alamo Drafthouse discounts for students, seniors, military, police, fire, EMS, and guests with disabilities
Just be sure to ask at any movie box office if there are any discounts based on what group you may fall into.
If you have an IDNYC, you can get some movie tickets for as low as $8. At BAM, you can get BAM Level 1 benefits, which include 50 percent off movie tickets for one or $5 off tickets to special screenings for two, among other great discounts. You can find these deals using your card ID here.