If you’re here, you love movies. Even better, you love seeing movies. Unfortunately, movies cost that resource that is always most precious, time. Also, they’re getting freaking expensive. Here’s the best methods of seeing movies without giving ten bucks to some theater that won’t even shush the obnoxious guy with the beer he snuck in.

Landing a Pass

Keep Your Eyes and Ears on the Airwaves

  • Before any movie runs, there will be promotional pushes in major markets, which generally include preview screenings, usually arranged in conjunction with local television and radio stations.  Sometimes, they’ll also run with local newspapers.
  • Just be sure to give them correct information, as they often mail the pass.

Become Friends With The Marketing People

  • When you go to your next free screening, ask the lady with the clipboard (there’s ALWAYS a lady with a clipboard at these things, it’s required by law) if she has a mailing list for future screenings her companies may be running.  Many companies will run multiple screenings, and will send out as many free passes as humanly possible to as many people as possible. They’ll be overjoyed to have you on the list, because you have a butt, and might put it in a seat, and that’s one less butt they have to find!

Join the Pass Giveaway Sites

  • This can be tricky; some sites just consist of spam. Others, like Gofobo.com, are absolutely legit (and sometimes even ScreenCrave gives some away!), but you have to act fast, or you lose. Still others have deals with studios. Search the Internet and ask around, then sign up for the sites that are the most on the ball.  Give them an email address you regularly check, as these things can be extremely time-sensitive.

Know Your Local Stores

  • Local specialty stores will sometimes have a stack of passes for movies that appeal to certain demographics.  Independent bookstores will have passes to indie movies, video game stores will have passes to blockbusters that appeal to young men, and so on.  This is especially true in large urban areas.  Become familiar with what stores carry passes on a regular basis, and make it a point to stop in.  No matter what the movie is, pick up a pass.  You never know when it’ll come in handy.

Look For the Pass Hoarders

  • “Pass-hoarders” are people who are obsessed with seeing movies for free, and find, collect, and trade passes.  They call themselves different things in different cities, but they all at least have a message board and they’re all friends.  You can trade passes and find out where passes are being offered.

You Can Find Everything on Craigslist

  • If you know a screening is coming up, it’s just like concert tickets; people will have something come up at the last minute and need to give their tickets away.  Keep an eye out, and click refresh regularly.

What To Do When You Get a Pass

Show Up An Hour Early

  • Keep in mind the word “free” is a lure for most people, and bored college students will show up before the theater even opens to yak with their friends and wait for the screening to start.  If you’re going to a screening, go directly to the line and get there early.  The absolute minimum you can show up for a screening and get in is probably a half hour, but you’ll be way in the back next to the kids making farting noises — An hour or two ahead is much safer depending on the film.

Bring a Friend or Bring a Book

  • An hour in line is a boring, boring, BORING time at a movie theater.  There’s nothing to look at and nothing to do.  Also, you’ll probably be sitting on a carpet for long periods of time.  So bring something to do.

Don’t Hit the Concession Stand Until After You Get a Seat

  • There’s nothing worse than getting your food first, for several reasons.  One, you have to hold it the entire time you’re standing in line, which means you’ll probably start eating it.  Two, that means you’ll eat a whole bunch of fiber and drink a whole bunch of fluids right before you see the movie.  Which means nature will make a call you have to answer at what’s probably the best part.

Bring Something To Hold Your Seat

  • As we said, marketing departments need to pack these screenings, so if they see an empty seat, they’ll fill it.  Have something to mark the seat as yours; a jacket, a sweater, a backpack, a friend keeping their hand on the seat, just have something.  And be ready to call out seat-poachers; yeah, people will try and steal your seat.

Follow all this, and you’ll be well on your way to a lot of very cheap dates.  Well, more likely not considering all the time this takes, but at least your nights alone will be filled.