If you're planning a trip to the cinema, and have just spent a fortune on tickets, then you may want to look away now, because a new study has revealed that depending on where you live, you may have overspent by up to £12 on each ticket to see the film.
The research, from money-saving website Voucherbox.co.uk, looked at prices across the Vue, Odeon and Cineworld chains, and compared the cost of a standard ticket for upcoming blockbuster X-Men: Apocalypse on the same day and time in nine cities around the UK. This revealed a huge disparity in prices, often between cinemas in the same chain.
The cheapest in the study was Vue Cardiff Stadium Plaza, where an adult ticket costs just £4. The most expensive was also a Vue cinema - as its London West End cinema on Leicester Square will charge you £15.99 for an adult ticket. Outside of London, Manchester comes out as the most expensive place to purchase an adult ticket at £12.
Out of the three big chains, all had some differences in prices between locations. Vue had the biggest disparity between the cheapest and most expensive cinemas (300%), while Odeon had a difference of 127% and Cineworld a 42% difference between its most expensive cinema in London (£13.60) and its cheapest in Birmingham (£9.60).
If you are in a pricier part of the UK, then discounts will be particularly important. Unfortunately, they vary across the country too. A student ticket at the Cineworld in Cardiff, for example, is 62% cheaper than an adult ticket, whilst the Vue in Cardiff is the same price regardless of the type of ticket you purchase.
As a family, there are sometimes considerable cost savings to be made. However these can differ drastically within the same area. Calculating the collective admission cost of two adults and two children, the family ticket at Vue Leicester Square will save you £6.40, whereas the Odeon Leicester Square ticket will save you £17 – the total cost difference between them is £23.16.
How can you save money?
The first step is to investigate the cinemas in your area, and find the one with the cheapest tickets - or combinations of tickets - for you. This should become the first place you check when you're planning a cinema trip.
Don't forget to check local independents, which will often be keenly priced. Not only will you save money, but you're supporting an independent local business too.
Shane Forster, Voucherbox.co.uk UK Country Manager also suggests: "Check before you head out of the door, and see if there are any deals to be had by purchasing tickets beforehand online, bearing in mind booking fees and additional expense when you arrive, such as snacks, 3D viewings and seat upgrades."
One of the things worth looking at online is whether there are special deals at certain times of day or days of the week. Mondays and Tuesdays are often quiet, so many cinemas will offer discounts to get people through the door.
You can get two tickets for the price of one at a number of cinemas on Tuesdays and Wednesdays if you buy qualifying insurance products through Comparethemarket - or switch energy providers through the site.
If you have children, and are prepared to wait a few weeks before seeing a new release, then check your local cinemas for kids' clubs. The Odeon prices this at between £1 and £2.50, Cineworld charges between £1.60 and £1.75, and Vue costs £1.99.
You can even get a freebie, by using sites like HotUKdeals.com, to track down free screenings. At the moment, for example, there are free tickets available to the Guardian screenings of Sing Street this Sunday - being shown everywhere from Glasgow to Bristol.