Movie Hacks

I see a lot of movies. Movies are my happy place. I can sit in the dark for two hours and get lost in a story. Over the years, I have learned how theaters work, and I’ve identified four ways that you can make you movie-going experience a little better/cheaper/more enjoyable.

Let me tell you how to get:

  • Better seats
  • Free 3D
  • Free snacks
  • Free movie showings

1. Better Seats

The best seats in the house are right in the middle of the screen. Middle row, middle seat. The movie is all around you, especially in a big theater. I’ve seen a lot of movies, and this is the best place to sit, bar none.

And then movies started with this whole assigned-seating bullcrap. If I had to guess, it’s a way they can make more money.

Why is it bullcrap? ’cause I wanna sit where I wanna sit.


Now the best seats in the house are marked as handicap. I have absolutely no problem with giving the best seats in the house to someone in a wheelchair. I used to be in a wheelchair.

What I do have a problem with is paying big money for a movie, sit in sub-optimal seats, and have the six or so handicap seats go unused!

That really chaps my hide. — my very chapped hide

Solution #1: Sit in ’em anyway. I’ve been sitting in them for a couple years now. Who’s gonna stop you? Not once has anyone tried to correct me. I use handicap stalls in bathrooms, too. My handicap is being HUGE. I don’t fit in normal bathroom stalls.

Before any of y’all get on your handicap soapboxes, I actually am disabled. You can’t tell from looking at me until I try to walk.

I’ve had people tell me I was sitting in their seat two times… in two years. My response is easy, “I’m totally sorry, let me move.”

At which point I move down to the next, empty handicap seat (both times there were other empty seats).

Let me tell you kids a story about how there were no assigned seats at the theater when I was a kid… — some old guy (not me)

Solution #2: You might be one of those prim and proper people who would never sit in a seat not assigned to him/her. There’s a solution for you. Theaters will sell you these seats (the handicapped ones) 15 minutes after a movie has started.

The trailers are 15 minutes.

You’ll sit down right as the movie is starting.

Boom — some guy who just had his mind blown

2. Free 3D

3D movies are expensive. I don’t sneak into them, I just don’t pay extra unless I know it will be good. So, occasionally I will pay more and go to a 3D movie. I think it’s cool — I just don’t want to pay for it.

Now that I see a lot of movies (see trick #4, below), I am at the theater a lot. It is my happy place. I go to the movies to relax. If I happen to be the theater a hour early, I like to sit in on some random movie.

The major chains have taken all the movie names off the individual theathers. I imagine it is to discourage people from movie-hopping. Who wants to see a random movie?

This guy .

— this guy

I do not advocate movie hopping. I pay for all my movies, thank you very much. But if the theater chain is giving away movies (see trick #4, below), I don’t mind sitting in on a movie for an hour.

Problem: What if it is in 3D? I can’t watch it.

Solution: Keep a spare set.

Go see a 3D movie. Pay extra for the glasses. Enjoy the movie.

As you exit, there is a place to “recycle” your glasses. Nobody says you have to. You paid extra money to buy those glasses on the way in. What, do you think they sanitize them, shrink-wrap them again, and sell them to the next guy? No, they tear open another case they bought from China for pennies.


So now you have your very own pair of 3D glasses, usable any time you need to.

3. Free Snacks

Of all my movie hacks, this is the only one that some people might think is unsavory. But, who cares? Free snacks.

Did you know that the large popcorn and large soda come with free refills? Did you know that some people don’t actually get refills?

If I have an extra $10 on me to buy a huge-butt popcorn, you better believe that I’m getting a refill!

— this guy

So, some (a lot) of these obscenely rich folk will walk out of a theater and just throw away their bucket and plastic cup. I simply “recycle” that bucket and plastic cup (read: take them out of the garbage), walk up to concessions, and redeem the refill that they obviously didn’t want.

I don’t have any problem doing this. The refill is baked into the cost. Those people didn’t use it. I will.

Problem: A large popcorn is too much for me.

Solution: Don’t eat it all.

Problem: I would never be seen taken something out of the trash!

Solution: Pay $20 for a popcorn and drink. While you’re at it, can you give me $50?

Problem: I don’t want to drink after someone!

Solution: Get a new straw, dummy. While you’re at it, rinse the thing out at the drinking fountain. Doi…

4. Free Movies

If you use trick #3, above, you will be collecting a lot of points on your loyalty card. I used to plow through points “buying” small popcorns, but they are starting to accumulate now.

Start saving those points for a free movie pass!

While you’re at it, check out Regal Unlimited (if you use Regal theaters). It really is worth it. I go to the movies once per week. We go to the movies on Tightwad Tuesdays (most chains offer cheaper movies on Tuesday). Total cost per month: $24.

With Regal Unlimited, I can see any movie (even at night) for $21 per month. You do the math.

Plus, I can see any extra movies I want. Why stop at once per week? Any movie I see over the 4th is essentially free. I just pre-pay my movies.

What’s the catch? Well, Regal want you to see every movie in their theaters and buy lots of treats. Will they make money? Break even? Lose money?

I don’t much care. I just like movies. — this guy

Do you get any points if you use Regal Unlimited? You still get some points when it renews every month. It just won’t be as many points as if you spent actual money to see those flicks.

Now the strategy is to get the studio bonuses. Lots of movie studios are offering bonuses if you see a set of three movies. Ok, so see those movies. It’s free, anyway. You don’t even have to see those movies. Just stop by the box office and buy tickets for those movies.

Or, if money is no option, you can get the tickets online with Regal Unlimited. Then, if you don’t go to the movie, well darn. You still get credit for “seeing” the movie.

There is a small charge ($.50) for getting your Regal Unlimited tickets online.

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