Cheap Summer Cinema: Cool Off at These Bargain Family Films Around Puget Sound
Dollar matinees, $3 first-run films, movie story times
“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.
Columbia City's Kidsummer Film Fest: $3 Wednesday matinees
Located in one of the most vibrant communities in Seattle, Columbia City's vintage, independent theater will run its third summer season of kids' film on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. through August 24. All seats are $3. The snack bar will offer kid-sized concessions and noncarbonated drinks, and the lights will be dimmed instead of dark. Sign up for their weekly newsletter online to receive a free small popcorn.
Details: 4816 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle. 206-721-3156
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, but do hold Regal Value Days where tickets to regularly scheduled movies are discounted (usually around $6).
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 with Monday Movie Madness, when all tickets are only $4; Wednesday through Sunday, tickets are still only $6 for adults; $5 for kids under 16. 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 the last showing 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 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 only scheduled on weekends, but whenever you go, all tickets are $4 (3D is $5.50).
Details: 16505 5th Ave. N.E. at 165th, Shoreline. 206-363-6339
The Edmonds Theater: $5 matinees
It's a little pricier than others on this list, but only a little. 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 $5. For evening showings, general admission is $9; children 12 and under pay $5; seniors pay $8.
Details: 415 Main St., 98020 Edmonds; 425-778-4554 (showtimes); 425-672-9366 (office)
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. You can all the SPL movie showings at this handy link.
- King County Library users have options at several branches as well. Check the library calendar for these and more.
- There are many outdoor cinema programs around the Puget Sound during the summer. If your family is up for a late night, most of the outdoor movies are free and none of them is expensive
When you missed the matinee but you're out of ideas for summer activities, don't forget Neflix, Hulu and Popcornflix for streaming movies at home. Looking for a particular movie? Try Yidio for searching across platforms.