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Is a movie middle class?

February 27th, 2015 at 11:21 am

So remember my story about my crazy, broke friend Mrs A? She's the one who lives in her mom's apartment, doesn't pay rent, has three kids, drives a mercedes, shops only at whole food, and complains about how expensive everything is. Well Mrs A posted on Facebook that she spent $170 on going to the movies with her family over the weekend and said it was so unfair. She wrote it's unfair that going to the movies is an elitist event and since when did it happen that taking a family of 5 is so expensive?

I didn't respond because I personally don't think the movie has to be so expensive an event. It isn't cheap but it's not the most expensive thing you can do.

So I saw her a couple of days later and asked her how did it break down to being so damn expensive. She said it was two adults, their babysitter (13), two kids 4 and 5 and the 1 year old. Their tickets cost $70 alone. They went to a deluxe theater and saw Sponge Bob in 3D. Then another $100 for food and snacks since they went at 6 pm.

Okay I have to say anyway you cut it I guess the problem is they didn't even try to minimize costs by going to a matinee or buying discount movie tickets at $8/each at Costco. Then for five people it would have been $40 plus 3D fee. Save them at least $3-5/each person. Then if they had gone at a different time instead of dinner perhaps they wouldn't have needed snacks. And why not bring in their own snacks or juice box at least?

Do you take your family to the movies? Is it middle class? I think Mrs A personally went above and beyond what any middle class family would have spent. And perhaps the movies isn't a "middle" class activity anymore.

I asked myself would I spend $30 for an activity for me and family? I don't think so. But I have spent close to that going to the Monteray aquarium or CA academy of sciences. But both times that was the entrance fee and we brought our own lunches to save. So I tried to minimize the expense and maximize the experience.

But the movies? I'd like to think I'd buy one big popcorn for $10 and tell my kids that's it share it. And the movie tickets and my own juice boxes.

But of course perhaps it's wrong to bring my own juice box but I bring in my own water bottle even now. Whereas before I never bought popcorn, since we go so infrequently I pony up for popcorn.

What do others with kids and without kids do?

15 Responses to “Is a movie middle class?”

  1. scottish girl Says:

    We haven't taken our almost three year old to the movies yet. But when we do it will be a matinee and we will bring our own snacks.

  2. laura/the deacon's wife Says:

    Here in Suburban Chicago you can see a first run at a matinee for $5 per person. I will admit to stopping at CVS beforehand for snack to smuggle in. Just the way it is. And we're lucky that our local theatre has free refills on soda and popcorn, so we've been known to buy the smallest and go back once or twice.

    I did take myself to see "Gone Girl" on opening day and found it well worth the $6. But anything more than that, I would have passed.

    Totally ridiculous what your friend did. But then again, her money, her life. Some people never will get it.

  3. MonkeyMama Says:

    $5 for the movies here. You just need to know which days and which theaters. ("Matinee" seems very broadly defined and local theater has days where it's just $5 all day, plus meal deals). OF course, in younger and more broke days there was video rentals or cheapie theaters with slightly older movies. I believe it was $1 or $2 for two movies. We went to the movies all the time when we were otherwise dirt broke. I go to the movies so rarely that I will usually buy some popcorn. At our current income level, I think we can afford some popcorn at the movies. Wink

  4. ThriftoRama Says:

    Why did she take a babysitter to the movies? Clearly they did not share snacks either. We usually do movie math. Do we care enough about it to see it at the theater or are we fine with waiting until it's out on DVD?

  5. doingitallwrong Says:

    It can be expensive, certainly, but I wouldn't call it "elite", because it can easily *not* be expensive. I buy movie gift cards with my credit card rewards, so really it costs me nothing! Since it's 'free', I don't bother worrying about time of day, although that can easily save $5-7 per person here. I can't watch a movie without popcorn, which I typically treat as a meal, and of course if I have popcorn I have to have pop. Snacks usually cost more than the tickets!

    I do utilize the AMC Stubs card for a few discounts plus $10 back for every $100 spent, but it still costs me probably $22 or so if I go by myself in the evening. However, I could easily get it down to $9 if I went during the day and got a snack-size popcorn rather than meal-size. You are not technically allowed to bring outside food into the theaters here, but it's not as if they check bags or anything. I would still buy popcorn, but I could easily bring in my own pop.

  6. JulieAlbright Says:

    To me it all really comes down to whether or not you enjoy doing it, that makes it worthwhile or not. If they had a great time, then it was worth it.

    For our family we prefer to find something older on DVD/Blu-Ray and watch at home. Most of our DVD/Blu-Ray collection was bought used or discount and it kind of makes paying $100 for a movie seem really outrageous to me. But we pay to go to museums, sporting events, and waterparks and other people might find those prices outrageous.

    For movies we load up on the $5 sales over the holiday seasons and watch at home on our own schedule. But again, it isn't so much that we are cheap, it's that we prefer to watch at home where we can control the volume and pause buttons ourselves.

    There just aren't that many new release movies that I even feel inspired enough to even want to suffer going to a theatre. I'd like to see Kingsman right now but it's COLIN FIRTH so it needs to be owned and sitting on my shelf so I can visit with COLIN FIRTH as often as I feel the need. I can't pay to see COLIN FIRTH and then just leave him there at the theatre. That would be tragic.

  7. Buendia Says:

    We don't go to the movies, but we'll sometimes rent them on Redbox, itunes, etc. if they aren't on Netflix. The few times we have gone to the movies, we went to a matinee as everyone else has said. We've brought or own snacks, too; I've never bought movie-theater snacks. My daughter was annoyed that you couldn't hit "pause" if you wanted to visit the restroom, and she was annoyed at the previews... it's just not our thing. But my husband loves to go to the movies; he's gone a few times on his own.

    There are a few movies I really wanted to see (Grand Budapest Hotel and the one about Alan Turing with Benedict Cumberbatch). There was another one called Underwater Dreams. I keep a list of movies I want to see and wait for the video.

    I would spend money on a family outing, but it's cross country skiing... costs us $50 to go to an amazing area with groomed trails. Not cheap, but it's all-day entertainment...

  8. VS_ozgirl Says:

    $170 for a night out is definitely a splurge! Maybe that's what you need to drum into your friend's head. It's fine for a night out occasionally but it should be few and far between. For every expensive occasion you should follow it with an inexpensive occasion. Balance. I love going to the movies so quite often get given movie gift cards for birthdays & Christmas and then all the spending needed is for food. I love their choc top ice creams but am just as happy bringing a bag of chips & a chocolate bar from home. It's still a treat. Movies with hubby is way more expensive so that's a splurge. He has a bad back so doesn't like our local cinema's seats so we have to go to the city = $35 movie tickets + $20 parking + $20 food & drink + $20 pre-drinks. We go to the movies together about once every 2 years! We usually just rent DVDS for $3.50 each & watch from the comfort of our own home (no problems with the seats there!!)

  9. Ima saver Says:

    Ah, the good old days, when I could go to the movies for 14 cents and candy was 5 cents a box. I always drank at the water fountain.

  10. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    When I was growing up and our family went to the movies, we rarely ever got snacks. Maybe popcorn. So .. I never really associated snacks with movie theater. As I got older I would get snacks once in awhile, but definitely not all the time.

    When I lived in the DFW metroplex there was a $1.50 theater with 2nd run films - I'd usually try to catch movies there. That way I got the big screen for a cheap price!

  11. TD Says:

    We don't do the movies too often, but definitely smuggle in candy and share a big popcorn. In every movie theater I've been to in the last 5 years if you buy the largest size of popcorn or pop, you get free refills. The thing is huge to begin with, and I'm sure with the refills it would go above and beyond feeding a group of 5.

    It really does sound like she needed something to complain about. I think more times than not complaining about these "injustices" is some form of rationalizing a person's own frivolous spending. The blame isn't hers anymore, it's the movie theater's.

  12. rob62521 Says:

    I'm still curious why they took the babysitter...nice gesture, but if you already have so many...

    We do go to movies, but not often. It has to be something we really want to see. We try to go to matinees and we usually eat before we get there since no snacks/drinks are allowed to be brought in. I might splurge for a bottle of water.

    I think she wants to complain about something and this was right up her alley. There are ways to save money and if they cannot afford a simple theatre, then perhaps waiting until it is out on DVD and renting it would be a better choice for her and her family.

  13. Tabs Says:

    ....whaaaat? $34 per person at the movies?!

  14. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    SG my point was to her why not a matinee instead of dinner time? Her response was oh we couldn't go earlier.

    Laura helpful suggestions like matinee didn't even sink in. Her response was also how much could we have saved by going to a matinee? That sort of money attitude is how she spends so much.

    MM she can afford a movie, but it might help if she took some methods to save.

    Thrift babysitter is family friend who watches kids very cheap. It's a 13 year old who basically sits for free.

    She wanted her kids to experience the movies and never dreamed it would cost so much. She flipped out. Besides the same friend says they go out to weekly family dinners which run $100/week at least and I can't imagine her cutting back.

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