Movie Tickets Too Expensive? Get Them Free

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From drinking Coke to changing pharmacies, there are quite a few ways to avoid paying for pricey movie tickets – and to score free popcorn.

Here’s today’s word, and it’s a funny one: gofobo. Try saying it five times, fast.

It’s a movie-mad site that offers access to free screenings, contests, and events. It’s chronically last-minute – that is, you might have 24 hours or less to respond. Worst-case scenario: You’re invited to a free movie and you can’t go. But you might be able to make the next one.

Paying $10 or more for a movie bugs me, which is why I have several options for free tickets…

Save those bottle caps

Tickets to AMC Theatres are among the premiums offered in the My Coke Rewards program. I’m lucky enough to live two blocks away from an AMC theater here in Seattle, and a short bus ride away from another one.

It costs 485 points to get a single AMC ticket, plus a free fountain drink. If you’re good at deferring gratification, save until you have 940 points (two tickets, two fountain drinks) or 1,100 points (two tickets, two drinks, and a large popcorn).

Points are found on bottle caps and multipacks of Coke products, which include Minute Maid bottled juices, Powerade, and flavored Dasani water.

For more details on the MCR program – including tips on collecting extra points – see my previous post, You just gonna toss that bottle cap?

MyPoints, my tickets

I’m also a fan of MyPoints, a gift card rewards program that gives 5 to 25 points for clicking on emails, filling out surveys, signing up for online newsletters, joining book clubs, or using services like discount airfare search engines. Buying from MyPoints partners can earn you hundreds of points per transaction.

One of the rewards offered is the Regal Entertainment Group, aka Regal Cinemas, Edwards Theatres, and United Artists Theatres. You can get a $10 movie gift card for 1,650 points or a $50 gift card for 6,850 points.

To increase your totals, go to the MyPoints home page and scroll down until you see the “Special Deals” section. To the right is a series of one-question “surveys.” Each gets you 5 points. Today I earned 60 points in about 60 seconds. (MyPoints also rewards you for referrals, so email the friends you think won’t get irritated.)

A caveat: Start a new email address for this, because there will be spam.

More freebie strategies

Some pharmacies (including those in supermarkets) give gift cards in exchange for transferring a prescription. Use it to buy a movie theater gift card in the “gift card mall” that just about every store has these days.

If your store doesn’t? Check out the secondary market for gift cards. Somebody will want to buy your plastic scrip for up to 90 percent of its face value. Use that money to go to the movies – or to pay for a discounted movie gift card from one of those same resellers. (No cards available at the moment? Set an alert and you’ll get an email when the cards come on the market.)

Those who live in or near metropolitan areas: Stay alert for advance screenings. Radio stations often partner with movie studios to stir up pre-release buzz. Two alternative newspapers here in Seattle, The Stranger and the Seattle Weekly, regularly run ads for free screenings. Watch for ads in your own area newspapers, both alternative and mainstream.

Free screenings may beget more free screenings. Publicists may email invitations to those who match a particular demographic (e.g., librarians and English teachers for literary films).

I’ve had great luck with getting those newspaper tickets, incidentally. I can remember only one screening that I didn’t get a ticket for: the first Sex and the City movie. I wound up seeing it anyway with a My Coke Rewards freebie. I certainly wouldn’t have paid $10.25, no matter how cute Chris Noth was.

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Stacy Johnson

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