The $12 movie: Is it worth it?

by Erika Torres

hollywoodI still remember when my dad and I would go to the movies, and tickets were $4 for matinee and $7 for evening showings.

My dad and I would often go to the Saturday matinees. It was our thing and I loved spending that time with my dad.

In high school, I would go to the movies with my friends pretty much every weekend. I think tickets were at about $8 or $9.

These days, it pretty much costs the soul of your first-born child to go to the movies.

Not only is it super expensive to watch a movie, but I’ve also found that the quality of movies out there just aren’t as good.

It’s very rare where I leave the theater going “man, that was a great movie.”

This past weekend, Eric and I got Django Unchained through Redbox ($1.50 for Blu-Ray rental!). I am not a Quentin Tarantino fan (I’ve never been able to watch all of Pulp Fiction before I get bored), but I absolutely loved this movie.

Despite all the gore, the acting was incredible and I loved the premise of the love story.

Recent movies that we actually saw in the theater that we enjoyed include Silver Linings Playbook and Argo. A couple years ago we also saw Super 8, which we both really liked too (it was a mix of The Goonies, Jurassic Park and E.T.).

I’ve of course seen more movies, definitely chick flicks too, but a really good movie has become rarer and rarer to find. Perhaps that’s why it takes a lot for Eric and I to actually fork over $25 for two hours of entertainment, when we can wait a couple of months and watch it on Redbox for a $1.50.

Within the past five years, what movies have you watched that made you leave the theater going “Man, that was a great movie!”

Which movies have been worth your $12?





Joshua Rodriguez June 3, 2013 - 12:20 pm

My Fiance and I wait for the movies to come out on Redbox. It’s ridiculous how much theaters charge for a ticket , never mind the popcorn and soda! At home, there are no lines, unlimited popcorn and drinks, and we don’t have to listen to other people chewing popcorn like animals or the smell of moldy carpet!

Akirah May 30, 2013 - 1:19 pm

We haven’t gone to the movies for full price in a long time. It’s just so expensive! Every so often Groupon will offer a drive-in deal for $10 and you get two tickets, popcorn and two drinks. That seems pretty decent, so we do that. And we got two $25 gift cards to the theater for Christmas this year…so we can use that. But out of pocket? I’ll pass.

The Norwegian Girl May 27, 2013 - 5:10 am

I can sooo relate to this.. A movie ticket in Norway costs $21 these days, so I´ve completely stopped going to the movies. it´s just too expensive! $42 for two people, plus additionally candy and sodas. I hate how expensive it has gotten, in my childhood it was so cheap, that I went all the time. I love the atmosphere at the movies. But not anymore. it´s not worth $21!!!

Teacher Girl May 26, 2013 - 6:45 am

I love seeing movies on the big screen and I look at it this way: one day I am going to have kids and the frequency with which I will be able to go to the movies will drastically decline. Family of five at the movies? I think maybe 2-3 times a year (that’s what my mom does). So I usually see movies I am excited about in the theater. This month I saw Iron Man 3, Gatsby, and Star Trek. I loved all of them and consider it $12 ($14 sometimes) well spent. Especially as a single person, there aren’t too many other things I can do for that price. A night out at a bar or dinner costs way more, so I look at it as a cheap night out.

Well Heeled Blog May 24, 2013 - 5:05 pm

We watch a lot of movies, especially in the summer when a movie is a great way to escape the heat for a few hours. We buy all our tickets from Costco – AMC and Regal Cinema theater tickets now cost $17 per pair or $8.50 a ticket. That makes it a little easier on the pocket book!

Mrs. Ripples May 24, 2013 - 1:38 pm

We rarely go see movies at the theatre and when we do, we go to the dollar theatre. The movies have been out for a bit but I’m not paying $8 or $9 to see a movie. I don’t even know what the going rate is now around here. At the dollar theatre movies are anywhere from $1.00 to $3.00 depending on the time of day and if its 3D.

I’ve only splurged to see a few movies in 3D but I think that its not worth the extra money. I want 3D movies like when I was young and things really came out of the screen at you. It’s not like that with the newer 3D movies.

Michelle's Finance Journal May 24, 2013 - 1:11 pm

I love watching movies especially at the theatres. I don’t go as much, but I buy AMC gold or silver tickets in bulk which ends up being $8 or $9 per ticket and use them through out the year.

Mo' Money Mo' Houses May 23, 2013 - 11:09 pm

I rarely go to the movie theatre anymore unless it’s a big action movie that I know will love good on the big screen like Lord of the Rings or Hunger Games. Otherwise Netflix is pretty good.

Tina @ My Shiny Pennies May 23, 2013 - 5:52 pm

We saw Star Trek last week, and I thought it was worth the ticket price. Like others have said, we tend to go to the theater only for action flicks since the big screen and sound system really amplify the effects. Iron Man 3, The Hobbit, Dark Knight Rises – enjoyed them all and thought they were worth the price.

Army Amy* May 23, 2013 - 9:34 am

Not worth it! With all the less expensive ways you can see movies these days (red box, netflix), you will rarely find me at the theater. Plus, I’m a talker. I want to talk and make commentary and laught obnoxiously loudly, which are all apparently frowned on at the theater.

But – go figure – I actually have plans to go to the movies today! Haha! My husband and I are going to see Star Trek. The last movie we saw before that was Oblivion (it was surprisingly good).

JW_Umbrella Treasury May 22, 2013 - 8:12 pm

Hmm…I can’t remember the last movie that I thought was worth the price of the movie ticket. In general, we tend not to see many movies in theatres, unless we think the movie will be greatly enhanced by seeing it on a large screen (ie, good special effects, fantastic animation, etc).

eemusings May 22, 2013 - 7:42 pm

Movies here cost about $17 (!!10 though still not as expensive as Japan, apparently.

We usually see movies at the cinema that T wants to see on the big screen (action type movies – eg Avengers etc). I’m not personally fussed about seeing stuff at the theatre.

Meg @ Mr.C & Me May 22, 2013 - 3:46 pm

we always go before noon and then it’s only $5/ticket (at AMC theaters). we also look ahead and determine which upcoming movies are “worth” seeing on the big screen and which we can wait to rent or watch online. 🙂

Erica May 22, 2013 - 11:07 am

We cheat. I love movies and have a Netflix subscription. If we really want the movie experience we usually go to a discount theater and pay $1.75 each for regular and $3.50 for 3D. We only pay full price to support a project we care about to send a message to Hollywood to make more quality movies– or when we’ve given blood and have free tickets. I saw the Avengers first run and thought it was really good for what it is. I have others of that caliber–fun, awesome graphics, based on franchises I like, but few serious Oscar movies come to mind that I saw first run in the last five years. Hollywood needs to do better– and give Leo an Oscar so he can loosen up and stop trying to turn in these tortured soul performances for the honor.

Katrina May 22, 2013 - 10:40 am

My husband grew up in a town that had a dollar theater. Consequently, his family went the movies often. However, it was a huge treat for my family to go to the movie theater when I was growing up, so we don’t quiet see eye to eye when we should fork over the money to see a movie. He does wear me down and convince me to go to the cinema occasionally. 🙂

It’s been very cold and rainy this month, so we went to see both Iron Man 3 and Star Trek (granted, we paid $6 and $5 per ticket respectively). It was worth it to fight away the rainy day blues. I also thought it was worth the $7 per ticket we paid to see The Dark Knight Rises. I also enjoyed seeing The Muppets on the big screen, but we used a gift card for that. Oh yes, Inception was totally worth the money as well. 🙂

krantcents May 22, 2013 - 10:35 am

I buy discount tickets for my movies through the theater. I pay $6 each. The only shortcoming is I cannot go during the opening 2 weeks. There is an exception if I use it for a matinee. I have been doing this for years.

kathleen May 22, 2013 - 9:27 am

come visit me. i’ll take you to a theater where $12 gets you a beer, a movie ticket, and six bucks in your pocket.

Ana May 22, 2013 - 9:22 am

Well, we usually wait to see the movies at home, unless it is an action movie that it’ll be more fun to watch on a giant screen!

One Frugal Girl May 22, 2013 - 8:55 am

I completely agree! The last movie I saw was Star Trek. (Yes my husband and I are quite nerdy.) I think I go to the movies less than once every three or four years. I just like the in home experience so much better. You can go to the bathroom whenever you need to, make your own tasty snacks and cuddle up on the couch. The cuddle factor is reason enough to stay home to watch them.

Lizzi May 22, 2013 - 8:34 am

I LOOOOOVE the movies and definitely wait until they go on DVD to watch them. The last movie I saw in the theaters was The Hunger Games & it was totally worth it. My BF and I would rather watch the movies at home though… it has to be a “special” movie for us to spend the $$$.

CeCe @Frugalista Married May 22, 2013 - 8:33 am

If I REALLY want to see it and am super excited about it and don’t want to wait then it’s worth it. That doesn’t happen a whole lot. Usually we’ll see the epic action type movies if we are going to see anything at the movies. We started going to the luxury cinema for $19.50 a pop. Crazy. But fun and different and we don’t go a lot. The majority of the time it’s gonna be DVD at home but if we want to go to the movies we go. I loved Django too!! I am a Tarantino fan but even I haven’t seen pulp fiction yet.

lynne @ lgsmash May 22, 2013 - 8:21 am

you should definitely check out: the intouchables (excellent movie!) and celeste + jesse forever (great story, bittersweet for sure).

i agree though – i haven’t been to a theater in YEARS for the exact reasons you’ve said – too expensive and nothing looks SO great that i want to shell out the $$.

Tanner May 22, 2013 - 8:11 am

Sad to say, theatres nowadays have become more of a “buy the experience!” vs “buy the movie!”. With so many alternatives to going into the theatre and buying their expensive goodies, their demand naturally falls. People would rather rent from Redbox, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and the list goes on. The last movie I went to see was Sherlock with my half brother, and we had a lot of fun. The movie was great too, but I think the fun was what paid for the ticket. We would’ve been more than happy to stay inside and watch Sword in the Stone or something like that.

Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies May 22, 2013 - 8:05 am

Mr. PoP just recently went to see The Great Gatsby since he wanted to see it in all of its huge screened glory, and he thought it was worth the $12. Before that, maybe the Harry Potter movies? I love the cool special effects on the big screen.
The thing is, though, ever since we bought a projector, going to the movies is pretty hard to justify. Our projection screen isn’t HD and we just throw it up on the wall, but it’s still pretty impressive to have a projection that’s probably 7-8 feet wide sitting across the little living room from you. For most movies it’s got a very good “big screen” effect. Plus, it’s nice to be on the couch, which is so much comfier than theater seats! And the popcorn is better (and healthier) too! =)

Budget and the Beach May 22, 2013 - 7:55 am

Well I’m a movie lover so I don’t mind going to the movies, but I use rotten tomatoes to see what the score is and really only see ones that are highly rated or any movie staring Ryan Gosling. lol! I just recently saw star trek and iron man 3 and I really enjoyed both of those movies. I also go to the movies more when it’s oscar season and I want to see the movies in the theater before the academy awards. But I do love red box prices! PS I must have missed something because I hated Django Unchained. I’m hit or miss with his movies, so that was a miss for me.

SavvyFinancialLatina May 22, 2013 - 7:14 am

I cringe whenever we go to the movie theaters. It’s so expensive, and frankly I rather watch the movies at home in my pjs and on my couch with subtitles on.

CeCe @Frugalista Married May 22, 2013 - 10:05 am

Oh my goodness!I use subtitles too. Even when the movies in English. I thought I was the only one. : )

pen || new york nonsense May 22, 2013 - 7:07 am

Argo and Silver Linings Playbook were AMAZING, and maybe the only two movies worth the money to see in theaters as of late. I actually saw Bridesmaids in theaters with friends, and thought it was hilarious and worth the cost- mostly because if I rented it a few months later with my husband he wouldn’t have appreciated it as much.

Pam E-P May 22, 2013 - 6:50 am

I’m a Trekkie, so my husband, son, and I just forked out $15/each to see the newest Star Trek movie in IMAX 3D. DEFINITELY worth it! Otherwise, I really only see movies in the theater if it’s an action or sci-fi that I think will be so much better on a big screen that it’s worth the money. We have netflix and do Redbox, too, so most of our movies are at home. We just finally got a really nice smart tv, which honestly makes me feel like I’m in the movie theater at home. It’s not huge, but we went from practically prehistoric to the (almost) latest. I can’t even predict when we will go to the theater next! (Well, not until the next Star Trek comes out!)


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