How to get the best deal at the cinema

Netflix on an iPad. Companies such as Netflix offer an alternative to going to the cinema
Netflix on an iPad. Companies such as Netflix offer an alternative to going to the cinema

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Services like LoveFilm and Netflix are gaining ground by offering good value home movies – so it’s no wonder cinema audiences are in decline.

But for many people there is still something special about a proper night out at the pictures.

Whether it’s the spectacle of the big screen; the excitement of seeing something brand new; or just the fun of friends and popcorn; we still flock to see blockbusters in huge numbers.

Although once you’ve paid for a family of four to see the latest 3D smash, and shelled out for overpriced popcorn and fizzy drinks, your wallet can end up a lot lighter.

And with the recent takeover of Apollo Cinemas by huge chain Vue – plus the shrinking number of independent venues – the choice of where to go is tiny.

Surprisingly there is also a complete absence of the usual online price comparison sites, telling you where to find the cheapest deals.

So Streetwise has scoured the internet, and used our many years of cinema-going experience, to bring you the following hints and tips for a cheap night in front of the silver screen.

1. Pick the right time

All the three big cinema chains in our area offer alternatives to the most expensive peak-time tickets, but most people don’t know anything about them.

This is because the majority of cinema visits take place either on impulse, giving you no time to check if you’re about to get clobbered, or at the weekend when prices are at their highest.

Here are times and adult prices to help you make a more informed decision.

Vue Cinemas (Gunwharf Quays)

Vue offer three tickets, the first is Super Saver on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays before 5pm. These cost £6.40.

The second is Saver on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays after 5pm, as well as before 5pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. These cost £7.65.

Peak times are after 5pm on Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. These are £9.

Odeon Cinemas (Port Solent)

At Odeon you only get two types of standard tickets, Super Saver and Peak.

Super Saver is for Mondays to Thursdays before 5pm, except on Bank Holidays, and costs £7.15.

Peak is the rest of the time - Monday to Thursday from 5pm, all day Friday to Sunday, and Bank Holidays – and costs £8.50.

Cineworld Cinemas (Chichester)

At Cineworld you will pay £9 after 5pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, as well as all day on Saturdays and Sundays.

Before 5pm during the week and all day on Tuesday tickets cost £7.70.

For all three chains there are numerous cheaper types of tickets such as senior, teenager, and child where the same pricing scale applies.

2. Do you really have to book?

A difficult question, as there’s nothing worse than raising young expectations only to find a film is completely sold out.

But Vue and Odeon charge an extra 75p is you book online or over the phone, so there are savings to be made by buying on the door.

If you are going at off-peak times the risk of being confronted by a sell-out audience is also reduced.

3. Independent cinemas

Smaller cinemas will offer less showings of less films and won’t have the all-singing all dancing options of the big chains, but they could be cheaper.

The Chichester Cinema at New Park charges £7.50 for adult tickets and £5.50 for students, as well as a cracking deal which gives youngsters from Year 10 through until the end of university a chance to pay £10 per year and then see films for £1 a time.

Chichester College and university students can access the same deal for £5.

For more info visit chichestercinema.org and call 01243 786 650.

No 6 Cinema in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard usually has one showing an evening or either a mainstream or independent film at 7pm, with the same prices as the Chichester Cinema.

Visit no6cinema.co.uk or call 074 3502 9408.

If you feel like venturing across to Southampton, Harbour Lights in Ocean Village is part of the excellent smaller Picturehouse chain.

Ticket prices and information can be found at picturehouses.co.uk/cinema/harbour_lights or by calling 0871 902 5733.

4. Avoid unnecessary extras

Declining cinema numbers have led to all sorts of money spinners to try and milk every last penny from your visit.

3D is a novel way of seeing some films, but there have been arguments that with some it actually takes away from the experience – making the screen darker and the picture less sharp.

Premium seats can be nice but rarely offer much better views than their regular neighbours, so may not justify the extra one or two pounds you pay.

And popcorn is the oldest trick in the book. Famously the most profitable commodity in the world because of its vast mark up - don’t buy more than you’ll eat.

5. Take advantage of deals

All big chains and many small cinemas have clubs, days or screenings which will let you pay less, so long as you agree to their terms.

There are also services like seefilmfirst.com which will send you offers which could include free tickets, you just need to reply to what they send you.

And by now Orange Wednesdays shouldn’t be news to most people, where you get two-for-one tickets if you’re a customer of the mobile network.