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10 Ways Around Summer Movie Crowds And Prices

Stocks in this article: RGC CNK CKRC

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Summer movie season doesn't care that summer's still more than a month away and Memorial Day still a few days away: Theaters want your money and want it now.

Moviegoers already decided it's summer blockbuster season and have parted with more than $1 billion to see men (and Scarlett Johanssen) in costume fight each other and computer-generated bad guys. The Avengers was just the beginning, considering we're not even close to the release dates for new Batman and Spider-Man films.

There are still a few ways to cut movie costs and keep some of your hard-earned dollars out of the box office till.

Comic book heroes, Pixar (DIS) characters and a slew of sequels all want what's in your wallet this summer, but there's no need to hand over everything you have. This is a business, not a mugging, and the customer still has a choice regardless of what the faceless drones at the studios believe. If they want you to shell out for their big-money content after months of 3-D retreads and busts such as John Carter, they'll have to do it on your terms. Here are a few ways to cut costs and keep some of your hard-earned dollars out of the box office till:

1. Go bargain hunting
If your parents didn't teach you to shop sales or buy by unit price, now is the time to learn.

The National Association of Theater Owners pegged the average price of a movie ticket at $7.93 last year. A $34.99 four-pack of tickets from Costco (COST) may not help folks on the low end of that average, but in cities where movie prices range from $11 to $13 a ticket, those $8.75 tickets to Regal (RGC), Cinemark (CNK) and AMC Theatres are basically all-day matinees. BJ's Wholesale Club offers the same four-pack deal, but only for AMC theaters.

2. Go early
The early bird special doesn't apply only to the socks-and-sandals crowd at the local buffet.

AMC theaters have an early bird special of their own for the first show of the day before 11 a.m. Shows start as early as 10 a.m., and seeing a summer blockbuster by noon has far greater rewards than just saving the rest of your day: Those early tickets are only $6 a pop, which is about half price in some markets.

3. Go off-peak
Ever go to a movie on a Monday? It's what moviegoing must be like for apocalypse survivors.

No lines, no waiting and nobody sitting within 10 seats of you. It's a big reason independent theaters hold special events early in the week, but it's also a great way to shake off a particularly miserable Monday at the workplace. If that doesn't fit your schedule, Tuesdays work just as well. Regal theaters not only know this, but will offer you $2 popcorn and drinks to sweeten the deal.

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