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How Grownups Can Save Good Money on Good Movies

Check out these deals on classic films and grownup discounts

spinner image A collage of characters from movies such as Chinatown, The Matrix, Steel Magnolias and Gone With the Wind
Photo Collage: AARP; (Source: Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images; Paramount Pictures; Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection; TriStar Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; Getty Images)

America’s movie theaters are making innovative efforts to lure back over-50 filmgoers, with discount tickets and special screenings of the kind of good movies grownups love. AMC, the biggest movie-theater chain, offers sneak previews of upcoming movies for $5 plus tax — you find out what the movie is when the lights go down — and offers the same deal in its $5 Fan Faves program.

In another major trend, the over-50 audience is flocking to special repertory screenings of classic movies, often at grownup-friendly times, and for less money than they’d pay to see the latest superhero flick on a Friday night.

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“With the pandemic and the [Hollywood] strike slowing film production, repertory films are helping to fill any gaps for theaters,” says Ray Nutt, CEO of Fathom Events, whose Big Screen Classics presents immortal old movies with introductions by Leonard Maltin, 73, arguably America’s most-read film historian. “Moviegoers are bringing their kids and grandkids to see the film as it was meant to be seen — they want to share that experience with their younger loved ones,” adds Nutt.

The over-50 audience also flocks to The Met: Live in HD, the Saturday afternoon telecasts of operas from New York’s Metropolitan Opera, often with discounts for grownups (coming up: Bartlett Sher’s production of Roméo et Juliette, March 23, 12:55 p.m. ET). They’re screened in over 700 theaters in most major cities — check here to find a participating theater near you.

​Sometimes grownup-friendly programming actually outsells more mainstream blockbusters. At Far Away Entertainment chain’s Bainbridge Island Cinemas near Seattle, the majority of moviegoers are over-50 cineasts feasting on the Met telecasts, England’s similar National Theatre Live telecasts screened at over 2,000 movie theaters worldwide, and classic films like Gone With the Wind. “It’s a great way to get people over 50 into the theaters,” says Far Away managing partner Jeff Brein. “They’re traditionalists who like good stories more than the razzle-dazzle computer graphics and superheroes that kids like.”

“Older viewers are a little bit more cautious on what they take the chance on with first-run movies,” says Ryan Oestreich of Chicago’s Music Box Theatre, but his nine-week Billy Wilder series sold out 700 seats Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30 a.m. “Those aren’t prime showtimes — but for an older audience, those are great showtimes.”

Here are some of the deals and film programs that might get you off your couch and back to the movie house, just like in the good old days.

Fathom’s Big Screen Classics

This series set a box-office record last year with $20 million in tickets sold (a great many to 50+ viewers). Coming up: Gone With the Wind (85th anniversary) April 7, 8 and 10, and Steel Magnolias (35th anniversary), May 5 and 8. Prices vary. Check here to find a theater near you and upcoming films.

AMC Theaters

AMC’s Screen Unseen program lets you buy a ticket to a not-yet-announced film for $5 plus tax, for a limited time. This month, it’s called AMC Scream Unseen, with a horror movie that will surprise you. For the same price, you can watch $5 Fan Faves, which recently featured Luca and Shrek 2. And for other AMC movies, guests over 60 get ticket discounts at varying prices — select the senior ticket option and see what you’ll save.

Regal Forever Favorites

Regal, the second-biggest theater chain, offers $5 tickets for its classic-film screenings. Coming up: Chinatown (50th anniversary), March 27 and The Matrix (20th anniversary), April 3. For other Regal films, viewers over 60 get a discount that varies, but you’re likely to save up to $3.

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Cinemark Theatres

Moviegoers age 62 and over can save up to 30% off the General Admission price every day at the third-biggest theater chain, and even more on Senior Day at select locations (day of the week varies by location). If you order online, look for the senior discount and find out what you’ll save at your local theater. 

Landmark Cinemas

The indie-theater chain that pioneered the idea of repertory film going offers a special Senior’s Day discount every Monday for movies old or new. You get 20 percent off both the ticket and your concessions (popcorn and such). Their motto: “A Great Deal Never Gets Old.”

Marcus Theaters

This smaller chain offers viewers over 60 a Friday night Young at Heart deal: Movies starting before 5:30 p.m. are $7, and popcorn, soda and hot dogs are each $3.50.​

Showcase Cinemas

This 22-theater chain, located mostly in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, has a Senior Wednesdays deal: for 60-plus viewers, admission is $7.75 all day, and popcorn plus a fountain drink is $5.50.

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