“When I was a kid, a ticket to the movies cost only ... [insert small amount of money].” So goes the familiar tale told by grandparents to kids the world over.
The reason movie ticket prices are used to benchmark how much times have changed is because a trip to the movie theater continues to be a treat after so many decades — a rare constant in the always-changing world of entertainment.
Despite the allure of video games and the latest social media app, sitting in the dark, air-conditioned cave of a movie theater has never gone out of style. This summer — after completely missing out in summer 2020 — you and your family can get back to enjoying this big-screen tradition, at some very retro prices.
One note: Do carefully confirm on each theater’s website the time and ticket price for the movie you want to see — and, new this year at nearly every theater — buy your tickets online.
Regal Summer Movie Express, various Puget Sound locations: $1 midday matinees
Regal Entertainment Group runs a weekday family matinee series all summer long. Each ticket costs $1 for midday movies showing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The same movies will play at all participating locations in the Puget Sound area, including Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, Tukwila, Lynnwood, Everett, Mountlake Terrace, Bonney Lake, Lacey and other locations. Note: Check the Regal website for exact dates and locations; some Regal theaters in the region do not participate in Summer Movie Express.
Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse, Bellevue and Olympia: $1.50 morning matinees
The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse consists of a different G- or PG-rated movie each week for eight weeks. Tickets cost $1.50 for adults and children, and you must purchase them in advance online. Local participating theaters include Cinemark Lincoln Square and Century Olympia. Showings are Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m.
Details: Cinemark Lincoln Square, 700 Bellevue Way N.E., Suite 310, Bellevue; 425-450-9100. Century Olympia, 625 Black Lake Blvd. S.W., Olympia; 360-943-0769
North Bend Theatre Summer Matinees, North Bend: FREE
North Bend Theater and Si View Metro Parks partner to offer free kid's summer matinees on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at noon, through August 27. Walk-ins only, reservations not required.
Details: 125 Bendigo Blvd. N., North Bend. (425) 888-1232
Blue Mouse Theatre, Tacoma: $6 tickets
A 100-year-old independent movie theater, the Blue Mouse has appealing prices every day of the week, with all tickets regularly priced at $6. Blue Mouse plays a mix of family, art-house, independent and mainstream movies, so be sure to check out the listings and book online before you go.
Details: 2611 N. Proctor St., Tacoma. 253-752-9500
Crest Cinema Center, Shoreline: $6 afternoon matinees
Shoreline's beloved discount theater has long offered a chance to catch the movies you meant to see before they leave the big screen. Matinees are midday showings on weekdays and weekends. Evening tickets are $8. Check the schedule and book tickets online. (Bonus for adults: The Crest now serves beer and wine.)
Details: 16505 5th Ave. N.E., Shoreline. 206-363-6339
Majestic Bay Theatres, Seattle: $6 Tuesday screenings
Ballard's longtime neighborhood movie house plans to reopen July 2. It will bring back its $6 Tuesdays special, where all screenings and all ages cost just $6. While you're waiting for the Majestic Bay to open, swing by Fridays in June at 2 p.m. for free movie theater popcorn, while supplies last.
Details: 2044 N.W. Market St., Seattle. 206-781-2229
The Edmonds Theater, Edmonds: $7 matinees and children’s tickets
While it's a tad pricier than other bargains on this list, 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 $7. For evening showings, general admission is $9; children ages 12 and younger pay $7. Check showtimes on Facebook and buy tix at the box office 30 minutes beforehand (you can also visit the box office to buy for future showings, too.
Details: 415 Main St., Edmonds. 425-778-4554 (showtimes); 425-672-9366 (office)
Ark Lodge Cinema, Seattle: $10 for all showings
This one is also not a huge savings over regular ticket prices, but it's a bit less expensive and you get to support Columbia City's vintage independent theater. Ark Lodge is currently screening movies Thursday through Sunday. Book tickets online.
Details: 4816 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle. 206-721-3156
More ways to enjoy family movies
Editor's note: This article was originally published a few years ago and updated most recently for 2021.