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Special Feature: How to save money at the cinema

There's nothing quite like the experience of going to the cinema. Despite the growing popularity of companies like LOVEFiLM (and their seductive offers such as the current one for a 30 day free trial) watching a DVD in your living room is just never going to be the same. But if you are a cinema regular, going to the movies can soon leave you massively out of pocket. At over a tenner a pop (each), tickets aren't the only concern; throw in overpriced treats, not to mention parking prices, oh and that post-film dinner which is calling your name. You might as well have booked a day at Thorpe Park instead. Unless you're planning on stopping your cinema visits altogether, there are ways you can reduce the amount you spend.

Here are our top money saving tips for thrifty spending at the flicks:

Buy a loyalty card
If you go on a weekly basis or more, you should definitely be investing in cinema loyalty schemes. For a small purchase fee (and depending on which cinema you go for) you could earn points to use as rewards every time you see a film - or if you're determined to get as much for your money as possible, you could even pay a monthly amount in order to see unlimited films, meaning you could literally see everything.

Go super saver
Although silly factors like work and regular social hours determine when we get to go to the cinema, if you're flexible then it's well worth going during off-peak times. Most cinemas offer cheaper prices during weekday afternoons - plus, the only people you're likely to have to share the screen with are elderly ladies and gentlemen getting their Helen Mirren fix.

Seek out independent theatres
Although big name multiplexes like Vue and Cineworld have the biggest screens and the best eardrum-bursting sound, they are also guaranteed to have the most expensive prices. So instead, get researching smaller (and cheaper) theatres. Although you might have to wait a little longer to see the latest releases - and in most cases, without 3D - there will be other plus points too: a lot of small theatres are more focused on customer experience, unique décor and cool features like comfy couches and better food.

Avoid buying extras
Speaking of food, you're always going to pay more if you give into the dreaded snack temptation. Although it might be difficult to avoid it whilst everyone else is munching popcorn, nachos, crisps and sweets; a good tip is to make sure you eat before you leave the house. If you're completely stuffed when you go in, it's likely to make the experience of a snack-free film much more bearable.

Be patient
With big movies being promoted every five minutes on TV, you'll probably want to go see a film as soon as it's been released. But try not to. Exercising a little patience can end up paying dividends - theatres are much more likely to put on special deals and price reductions the longer you wait. Alternatively, you could always hold out a little longer and buy a copy on DVD. Although this goes against our unwavering devotion to the big screen, when companies like Amazon are offering savings of up to 75% on Blu-rays and DVDs, it's difficult to dismiss the home version.

However often you go, don't let cinema costs get in the way of your love of film. Seek out a steal and reignite your enthusiasm for the big screen.
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