College is a great time and loads of fun. You make lots of friends, eat lots of food, play lots of games, take lots of classes, and spend lots of money.
But you see, the money part is the hard part. You spend all your money on school for tuition, room and board, books, your meal plan, and the clothes to replace the ones you forgot at home and all those socks you lose to the black hole that is the laundry room.
But like the rest of the world, you want to watch movies. But how are you supposed to do it without limited funds? Let's find out.
Go Theater Hunting
Seriously, it all depends on the theater you go to (or if you even go to a theater at all). You can expect chain movie theaters to be much more expensive than smaller movie theaters. So steer clear of AMC, Cinelux, Independent Theaters and those like it.
A late-run theater would be fantastic. They're never chain cinemas so you can expect a cheaper price to begin with. But the movies they show are, if you didn't expect this, late-run. They are released a few weeks after the initial release. Sure, you have to wait a little bit longer for the movie, but because it shows later the price is even cheaper.
The best theaters are those that offer student discounts. Now this next statement may sound contradictory to what I've said earlier, but select AMC Theaters have student days. Every Thursday, if you show up with your high school or college ID, you'll get a discount. But as I've mentioned, try not to go to one of these. Smaller theaters that are cheaper to begin with might just have student discounts on Thursdays (or other days) as well.
In addition to those special days where students get a discount, there are these things called matinees. They're just shows that take place earlier in the day, normally until about 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. Some theaters even consider movies before 6:00pm matinees. And these are spectacular for two reasons: there are less people that show up and it's cheaper.
Think before you eat
If you find the desire to go out to the movie theater, eat something real quick before you go. Your stomach will fill up enough for you to not get the raging desire to splurge on a jumbo popcorn, large drink, some candy, and that hot dog that is calling your name. Instead, you might just settle for a medium popcorn and medium drink.
If you want candy, bring your own. Not that I'm condoning sneaking food into a movie theater, but if you feel like being sneaky - go for it. The candy is always cheaper if you get it elsewhere and you might have more options when it comes to the candy you bring in as well.
You could always roll with one of the combos that specific theater has. That's what the combo is there for, to save you a little money. If you want a drink, a popcorn and candy anyway, always choose the combo.
Do yourself a favor and share your food with the people you came with. You can get the large combo, share the popcorn, the drink and the candy with the person sitting next to you. And I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: you don't have to be on a date to share your food.
Or you could always stream the movie
First and foremost, get a Netflix subscription. Or Hulu Plus. Or Amazon Prime. Netflix offers the first month free to students and costs $120/year. Amazon offers a 50% discount and a limited six-month free trial to students costing $59/year. Hulu (as far as I'm aware) offers no student discounts, but does offer a two-week free trial and costs about $95/year. Personally, I share Netflix with my family of six people and I use it all the time. But I've heard the other two options are fantastic as well. And these also cover TV shows as well as movies.
Next up you have Redbox. This can be found in all 50 states and also accessed online. However, it's not for streaming and can only be rented as either a DVD or a Blu-ray. This can cost about $1.50 a day plus tax. That is unless you lose the movie or don't return it in the allotted time period by 9:00pm the night it is due. You can also rent games from Redbox, which is a neat add-in.
Or you can always buy the DVD or Blu-ray disc when it comes out. You can watch and rewatch that movie as many times as you want with as many people as you want.
Go to events on campus
There is always something to do on campus. And since everyone loves movies, you can expect to find events on campus catered toward movies. At my school, students got to see Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I and Avengers: Age of Ultron on opening night for free this year. We also watched several movies on campus including The Great Gatsby, Big Hero 6, Maze Runner, and The Breakfast Club for free. And I go to a state school, meaning private schools with more funding get even cooler free stuff, of course.
My sister's school (another state school) shows late-run movies in their auditorium for $5 for students. And at both our schools, we have programs online where we can watch movies recently released on DVD and Blu-ray for free.
Since there is always something to do on campus and each campus is different, you can find programs to go see these movies or watch them recently after they come out. You will never be stuck without seeing a movie.
So, before you go all...
Look at all the opportunities around you. And remember, watching movies and staying up to date on cinematic culture doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. You just have to be smart about it.