How to crush summer movies while barely spending money

Avengers, Dark Knight or Prometheus?? You can afford to see all of them — it's true!

Put away your black and white cinéma vérité collection and your foie-gras covered organic popcorn: it’s summer movie season, which means it’s time for big colorful mindless in-your-face entertainment that costs $4.5 billion to make! The whole thing kicks off tomorrow with the release of The Avengers, which is pretty much as a big a summer movie as you can get. And yes, we believe there are some movies that are worth seeing in the theater over streaming on your wee laptop screen, because when it comes to superheroes, aliens or Pixar, the big screen turbosound experience is as integral a part of summer as rooftop beers and that pesky annual increase in crime (not to mention a giant industrial air conditioner in which to bask). But as you know, movie tickets are pricey, which is why you should follow Brokelyn’s six-step strategy to defeat the super villain known as Summer Movie Spending.

1. Give blood
Sweet hammer of Thor, I know we sound like a broken record here, but whenever you see the blood mobile outside the UA Court Street theater, just freaking do it. It takes all of 30 minutes and you get a free unlimited movie pass sent to you within two or three weeks, which means you can use it on any movie, 3D, first-run, 2D, whatever. You can check the slightly annoying New York Blood Center’s website for the schedule, but you’re better off just signing up for their email blasts.

2. Buy in bulk
This is a strange and only slightly elaborate hack some movie bloggers figured out: if you buy corporate bulk passes through a theater’s website, you can get them for half of the regular price. You have to buy 50 at a time, so best to gather up your movie buddies, or just face the fact that you’ll probably want to see Batman 49 more times this year BECAUSE IT’S GOING TO BE THAT GOOD. Or you could buy them yourself and sell them to friends or strangers and undercut the theater’s price. But we’re talking $325 in savings all told here, people. That’s a lot of Simpler Times to sneak into those movies.

2. Accidentally get lost in the theater
Have you been in a megaplex lately? The UA on Court Street is, what, like 15 stories tall, with more sub-basements than a Goldeneye level? We’re not saying you should intentionally wander into another theater, but things happen.

3. Don’t ever ever buy snacks
And now here we’re going to skirt the line between being a savvy moviegoer and an unrepentant bum, but there’s no arguing that movie theater snacks are disgustingly over-priced (even those clever list-makers over at Cracked know what’s up). We can’t in good faith ever approve of you paying $10 for a tub of yellow-flavored corn that would cost all of 50 cents if you made it at home. Stop in the bodega and put some Jujubes in your pocket, or bring your messenger bag and stuff a bag of Trader Joe’s olive oil popcorn in there — it’s $2 and that shit is banging. But be careful to hide it under some stuff: Brooklyn theaters have been known to do bag checks.

4. Don’t wait in line
Jesus Christ, this one confuses the hell out of me: why do people wait in those insanely long lines outside of a box office when every theater has a bank of usually empty self-serve machines right inside the door? Skip the line, go right to the machines, for no extra cost, and laugh at everyone angrily paying cash for their tickets or whatever. This isn’t a money saving tip per se, but it is time-saving, and time, as we know, is constructed out of money. Props to Nitehawk Cinema which apparently does’t even have a box office at all. Because it’s 2012, guys.

5. Wait for the matinee
You don’t want to go see a blockbuster on opening weekend anyway, unless you’re particularly interested in the text messaging interactions of Brooklyn’s high school students. Picture this instead: it’s the dead of July, so hot you can barely peel the jorts off your thighs, and you just woke up with a weekday hangover because you’re a student/freelancer/worker at one of those jobs that gets days off in the summer. This is the perfect time to take yourself to see Brave in an air-conditioned theater. Here’s our guide to matinee prices and times at Brooklyn theaters — the prices have changed since we first ran that, so make sure to double check with the theaters, so here’s a quick updated primer:

Cobble Hill Cinemas: All seats $7 Mon-Fri up until 5pm (except the first 2 weeks of any Sony Pictures first run release, apparently)

UA Court Street: $10 (before 3 p.m. Monday-Thursday; first show on Saturday. & Sunday). Seniors and kids: $9 all the time.

BAM: $8 for the first matinee screening of the day.

The Pavilion: $8.50, all shows before 4pm.


It’s not worth it. Ever. Unless you have a desire to pay $5 extra for a low-grade headache, in which case I could recommend any number of boxed wines instead. There was one movie made that justified the 3D experience, and it was called Captain Eo. That was all there ever will be.

Other ideas/hacks/tips? Put them in the comments! (Yes, we already know about torrenting, thanks).

Follow Tim: @timdonnelly.


  1. eric_silver

    eh, the theater hop is a good idea IN THEORY, but in reality, the second movie is getting the shit end of the stick. Who can hang out for 4 hours in the dark? I tried this with The Hangover and then jumped into Public Enemies after, and wound up sleeping. Ok, that’s a bad example, but I bet if it were a good movie, I’d be upset to miss it.

      • eric_silver

        I don’t like to drink during movies unless:

        a) I’ve already seen them
        b) I don’t really give a shit about the movie

        For example, I drank for the second time I saw the Muppets, and for every time I’ve watched The Expendables.

  2. jscholle

    Get the theater loyalty cards (if free). The Regal one gets you free stuff every $50, including a free ticket every $150. Plus they give you extra points for certain movies or going on certain weekdays. Have your friends swipe your card for their purchases too.

    Keep the 3D glasses, pay for a different movie, and sneak into the 3D.

    (Also, I believe some of the vouchers you mention in #2 make you pay a surcharge to use them in NYC)

    • Tim Donnelly

      that is to say, a one-time-use unlimited pass. Unlimited means you can use it for any movie, but only once. Sorry if I made it sound like you got a golden ticket of sorts.

  3. deacon

    I agree with all of these. I buy in bulk and I would like to add that if you can’t do the 50 tickets through the website, check out Sam’s, Costco,and BJ’s wholesale clubs. I bought a 10 ticket pack through them and even w/ the non member fee of $4 I save a good amount of money.

    I do have to disagree with one thing and that is…please wait in line! Automated checkout machines are replacing humans in many stores. They install them, reduce the man power, then the small workforce is expected to help with the machines when they don’t work and people can’t figure them out. Try to use the line when you’re not in a rush. The 2 min keeps someone employed.

  4. Another cheap theater tip, if your live anywhere around flatbush/ditmas park/kensington, just go the Kent Theater.

    $7.50 everyday but Wednesday when it’s $5 all day. It’s small and a little run down but they get first run movies, don’t care what snacks you bring in and it’s right by Cortelyou, so you can have a really nice dinner/lunch then catch a cheap movie.

  5. Brandy

    If you’re willing to eat a meal at Applebee’s they sell movie tickets for $7. One ticket per entree. The ticket is good at any Regal Entertainment Group across the country.

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