Taking a family to the movie theater is expensive. The prices are only going to increase. Time Magazine writer, Brad Tuttle, addressed the rising cost of movie tickets in his article, The Cure for the Ailing Movie Business Is To … Raise Ticket Prices? “By the end of 2012,” writes Tuttle, “the average movie ticket will likely sell for around $8.15.” So, if you have a family of four, you will have to shell-out a whopping $32.60 just to get into the theater. Would you like some popcorn and beverages? That’s going to cost you even more. Everybody is painfully aware that concessions sold at the theater are very costly. So what should a family do? Here are some ideas on how to have a family movie night without breaking the bank.
Your home is a theater.
You don’t need fancy equipment and an expensive home theater room to turn your home into a theater. Just let your kids help to do the work and you’ll be amazed at how much fun your family will have. Here are some ideas that my family has actually used to create a home theater experience.
- Choose a great family movie. You can use a DVD that you already own or rent one from a store. It doesn’t have to cost your family too much to rent a movie, there are inexpensive places all over the country. Where I live, there is a Redbox® located every mile or so. Movies from Redbox® only cost $1.00. Don’t want to leave your home? Use a service like Netflix or VUDU. Both services offer movies that can be delivered directly to your TV, computer, hand-held device, or DVD player. Netflix allows you to stream unlimited movies and TV shows to your home for only $7.99 per month. VUDU offers movies to rent starting at $3.99 and they seem to get movies very quickly after they have run in the theater. You can also rent movies from your cable or satellite company on-demand and, let’s not forget, if you are an Amazon Prime member, you can stream movies directly to your TV for free.
- Let your kids make movie tickets for the family. Kids like to pretend they work somewhere. When I was a child, I thought people who worked at the movie theater had the best job in the world. Allowing the kids to be involved in creating the theater makes them feel as if they are in charge. So let them make the tickets. Give them some paper and markers and let them have at it. Don’t worry about how they look. To your child, they will be the most magnificent tickets they’ve ever seen because they made them.
- Create a comfortable place to watch the movie. Make sure you have plenty of blankets and pillows for everyone to use. Provide the needed supplies and let the kids set up the room. Stay away from the movie room until they call you in. It’s their theater and you can’t go in until it’s opening time.
- Make snacks. You can pop some popcorn and put it in paper bags that you decorate. To quench your family’s thirst, you can serve beverages in paper cups or anything else you can imagine. Whatever snack you provide, it will most certainly be delicious and cost less than in a real theater.
- Let the kids invite you in. Remember, it’s their theater. They can ask you for your ticket and usher you to your seat. You could even turn out the lights and give them flashlights, just like in real movie theaters.
- Enjoy your family movie! Families are so busy these days. Between work and extracurricular activities it’s hard to find time to be together. A family movie night in your home is a wonderful way to spend time together as a family.
Still want to watch a movie outside of the home?
If you’re family wants to have a family movie night outside of the home but you’re on a budget, there are choices.
- Second-run theaters. A lot of people love to watch movies right when they debut. But when you do that, you have to contend with big lines, crowded theaters and, of course, high costs. Second run theaters are venues that show movies that have already been presented in first-run theaters at a discounted price. For instance, in my area, we have a charming, historic place called The Garland Theater. Tickets sell for only $3.50 per person. Check the yellow pages or search the internet. I’m betting you will be able to find a second-run theater near your area.
- Drive-in theaters. These theaters are a dying breed but some places still have them. Drive in theaters are a little less expensive than a traditional theater and often the admission includes two movies. The last time my family went to a drive-in movie, we drove about 20 miles to a small, nearby town and watched Spiderman and one of the Star Wars movies. It was very exciting for the kids and, unlike a sit-down theater, they had plenty of room to move around in our minivan. When our youngest got tired, we just made a little nesting area for her and she fell asleep.
- City and neighborhood parks. Check with your Chamber of Commerce or Visitor’s Center. Many cities offer movies in the park and they are often free. It’s a wonderful family experience to just lay out a picnic blanket and some food and enjoy a movie outside. It also builds a sense of community which I think is important for people of all ages.
Whether you decide to have a family movie night in your home or outside of your home, you will be sure to have a wonderful time spending time together as a family. Just remember, turn your cell phones off and there is no texting allowed during the movie.