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In honor of what was a miserable, cold and dreary weekend here in Birmingham, I’m going to dive into one of my favorite under-the-radar secrets: free tickets to advance movie screenings. Over the years, Sarah and I have seen a lot of movies before they were even in theaters – there have been a lot of good ones, and a couple bad ones – but our highlight was getting to see the last several Hunger Game movies a week early. Oh, and did I mention this is free?!
It works like this: prior to a movie coming out, studios want to build positive buzz around the film on social media and by word of mouth. The only problem with that is that no one has actually seen the movie. Enter advance screenings. Studios have one or two screenings in big cities across North America before the movie opens on the big screen. Codes are distributed, sometimes via local radio shows or contests, and lucky winners or early adopters get to punch that code in online and print out 1 or 2 tickets.
OK, OK, I’m sure you’re all wondering – how do you get these tickets? Is this real? Do you really consider the last Hunger Games movie a highlight? So how it works is all through this ‘lil website called Advance Screenings. Novel, I know. Screening codes, contests and more all get posted on this site and if you sign up for email notifications (spoiler alert: you totally should) you get notified when a new screening has been posted in your area. This is key, because screenings, especially ones in bigger cities, fill up fast!
Just as a snapshot, here are the screenings available in Birmingham right now (not much going on) and in Baltimore. Birmingham has one advance screening active right now compared to Baltimore’s 5. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing to live in a smaller city, though. You won’t get as many opportunities to see advance screenings, but screenings in bigger cities are gone ASAP. I can’t imagine the hassle of doing an advance screening in NYC or Baltimore. In Birmingham, 3/4 advance screenings will be at the Summit, which is relatively central and has plenty of great eateries and parking that make everything easy-breezy.
Tricks of the Trade
Once you sign up and select the 1 or 2 tickets, you will also be presented with basically an FYI stating that they overbook the theater to ensure it’s full, blah, blah, blah. It’s important to note that depending on the hype of the movie, you might want to get there pretty early to get seats that are together and not right underneath the screen. Outside of that important fact, here are some other things I’ve learned:
- Have some friends you want to invite? Grab your tickets, and then sign your spouse or friend up for an account and grab 2 tickets for them. Sarah and I are always armed with an extra 2 tickets so we can bring friends.
- Side note: I always grab our extra ticket under Sarah’s name just because the fine print says that if your ID doesn’t match the name on your ticket, they will turn you away. I’ve never had this happen – heck, I don’t think I’ve ever had them check my ID, but it doesn’t hurt to be safe.
- If it’s a contest, go ahead and max out your emails on the sign-up list, and while you’re at it, go ahead and throw your significant other’s email on there as well. It can only help your chances!
- Are you a member of your theater’s reward program? Not saying you’ll see a TON of movies this way, but Sarah is all about her movie theater popcorn, and we see some sweet savings via our membership.
The Simple Summary
Well, I hope this overview got ya in the mood for some advance screenings. Hey, they are free, they are fun, and they almost always get friends out for the show. We usually make a night of it and grab dinner beforehand. Just remember, head on over to www.advancescreenings.com and sign up for notifications. Cheers to you getting some cheap date nights in!