“When I was a kid, a ticket to the movies only cost...” the familiar rant begins. The reason movie prices are used to benchmark how much times have changed is because a trip to the movies continues to be a treat, a rare constant in the fast-changing world of entertainment. Despite the rise of video games and YouTube, the dark, air-conditioned cave of the movie theater has never gone out of style. This summer, with a little bit of planning, your family can share the big screen tradition for some very retro prices.
We recommend checking each theater's website carefully to confirm the time and ticket price for the movie you want to see.
Regal Summer Movie Express, $1 matinees
Regal Entertainment Group runs a weekday family matinee series all summer long. Each tickets costs $1 for movies beginning at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The same movies will play at all participating Regal Cinemas. There are participating locations in Seattle, Lynnwood, Redmond and Renton in the Puget Sound area. Note: Check the Regal website for exact dates and locations; several theaters in the region do not participate in Summer Movie Express.
Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse, Bellevue: $1 movies
The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse consists of a different G or PG-rated movie each week for 10 weeks. Tickets cost $1 each at the door, or you can buy the whole bundle in advance for $5. The participating theater is Bellevue's Lincoln Square (Wednesdays, 10 a.m.).
Tacoma's Blue Mouse Theatre: $4 seats
A hundred-year-old independent movie theater, the Blue Mouse has relatively low prices every day of the week, with adult tickets regularly priced at $6. But the deal gets even sweeter on Mondays and Tuesdays, when all tickets are only $4; and Saturday and Sunday matinee tickets are also $4. Blue Mouse plays a mix of family, art-house, independent and mainstream movies so be sure to check out the listings online before you go.
Details: 2611 N. Proctor St., Tacoma. 253-752-9500
Central Cinema, Seattle: $1.99 seats
Central Cinema plays an eccentric assortment of movies, only a few of which are for kids, and they only show matinees on Saturday. Keep an eye on their calendar for $1.99-cent movies (usually on Wednesdays) when you can easily afford dinner and a movie for your little night owl. Some are family-friendly; some are not. Check the website for features and dates.
Details: 1411 21st Ave., Seattle. 206-328-3230
Crest Cinema, Shoreline: $4 tickets, all the time
A little down at heel (though in better shape than it used to be), Shoreline's beloved second-run theater is a last chance to catch the movies you meant to see before they leave the big screen. Matinees are now showing weekdays, a new addition to the matinee schedule (they used to show only weekends), but whenever you go, all tickets are $4 (3D is $5.50). Check the schedule online.
Details: 16505 5th Ave. N.E. at 165th, Shoreline. 206-363-6339
The Edmonds Theater: $8 matinees, $7 children's tickets
It's pricier than others on this list, but the independent Edmonds Theater in a restored vintage building plays first-run movies on its single screen for less than you'll pay at the cineplex. Matinees are $8. For evening showings, general admission is $9; children 12 and under pay $7.
Details: 415 Main St., 98020 Edmonds; 425-778-4554 (showtimes); 425-672-9366 (office)
Ark Lodge Cinema: $8 seats for weekday matinees
Located in one of the most vibrant communities in Seattle, Columbia City's vintage, independent theater runs weekday matinees for $8, all seats.
Details: 4816 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle. 206-721-3156
Libraries, outdoor films and more cheap movie thrills
You can always check out videos from the library, but sometimes you can also watch them there.
- Several branches of the Seattle Public Library run movie series. Check the events calendar for a movie or other program at a branch near you.
- King County Library branches occasionally show movies and offer other family-friendly programs. Check the website.
- Many South Sound communities show a great array of free outdoor movies and performances at local parks.
This article was originally published in 2016 and updated for 2017.