Going to the movies might just be my favorite recreational activities, but boy, it sure isn’t the activity for the money-conscious person. Fortunately, however, AMC Theatres, which became the largest movie theater chain following a major acquisition in 2016, offers some worthwhile opportunities to soften the blow of their liberally dealt charges.
Join One of AMC’s Rewards Tiers
AMC overhauled its rewards program in 2016. There are now 2 rewards tiers, a free one called AMC Stubs Insider, and another with more attractive offerings at an annual fee, called AMC Stubs Premiere.
AMC Stubs Insider
• Free to join
• Free refill on large popcorn
• Up to $2 off tickets on Tuesdays
• 20 points per $1 spent. There’s a $5 reward every time you reach 5,000 points, so that’s $5 for every $250, or $1 for every $50, equivalent to 2% back. You can use it on concession items only.
• Free large popcorn as a birthday gift
• Waived online tickets for four or more tickets
• Points expire after 12 months of inactivity. Once points are converted to a reward, rewards expire after nine months since activation.
AMC Stubs Premiere
• $15 per year to join (look out for promotions; at present you’ll be credited $5 worth of points for purchasing the membership)
• Free refill on large popcorn
• Up to $5 off tickets on Tuesdays (applies to full-price adult tickets only)
• 100 points per $1 spent. There’s a $5 reward every time you reach 5,000 points; $5 for every $50, or $1 for every $10, which is like 10% back. It can be used toward the purchase of both concession items and movie ticket purchases.
• Free large popcorn and soda as a birthday gift
• Free popcorn and soda size upgrades
• Waived online ticket fees
• Faster service due to lines exclusively for Stubs Premiere members
• Points never expire. Once points are converted to a reward amount, rewards expire after nine months since activation.
For both rewards tiers, you must convert your points to a reward either online or by asking a crew member at the theater to do so.
You must get tickets at the box office in order to get the Tuesday member discount; it isn’t accessible online. Remember that it must be for a full-priced adult ticket; it won’t apply to a matinee ticket, or one for a child or senior.
If you attend movies at AMC frequently, I think it’s a good idea to join Stubs Premiere right away—it’s worth it if only for the generous 10% back in rewards points, which you’ll earn from both ticket and concession purchases (as you’re probably aware, concession food items are ridiculously priced; the smallest size popcorn costs around $7.50 at my local theater). The Stubs Premiere feature of service-fee-free online ticket purchases is also valuable. You can skip the fee ($2 or so) by buying in the box office, but it saves time—no box office line or one at the self-service machine—you simply show the QR code to the crew member at the door to get in (no printing required). You’ll break even after spending $150.
Take Advantage of Matinee Pricing
At my local AMC location in Seattle, regular tickets cost $13.19 for adults (ages 13 and up), $10.19 for children (ages 2–12), and $11.69 for seniors (ages 60 and up).
There are matinee and (less generous) afternoon ticket discounts in place as well; for example, for a 11:10 a.m. showing, adult, child, and senior tickets are $6.59 (half off in the case of adult tickets). For a 12:50 or 2:10 p.m. showing, adult tickets are $11.69 ($1.50 off regular price), while child and senior tickets cost $10.19 each.
So, try to go before noon whenever possible, but it you must go during the evenings, shoot for Tuesday nights.
Attend Free Advance Movie Screenings
Movie studios arrange for free screenings of movies open to the general public in order to build interest and get the reviews going. You can subscribe to notifications about any opportunities in your area with Fox Searchlight Screenings, Gofobo, and Lionsgate.
Since signing up for invites from Fox Searchlight, I don’t get invites all the time, but they appear like a little gift in my inbox from time to time. I think it’s realistic to expect maybe one every couple months. I’d suggest arriving at least 20 minutes early to secure not just a good seat but any; the screenings are overbooked in order to ensure a full house.