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Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Attending Free Advanced Movie Screenings

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For a little over three years I’ve attended about 85-90% of all major theatrical releases. The best part is that I’ve done it completely for FREE because I attend studio funded advanced screenings. What’s even better is that if the movie is being released in 3D, which is just about every blockbuster nowadays, I get to see those for free as well. I literally have saved thousands of dollars over the past years, especially when you take into account that I have a large family and I take them with me. My kids brag to their friends that they see every family and animated movie.

Now you may be asking yourself, “What exactly is an advanced screening?” In simple terms, it’s a public screening that movie studios set up for the general public to watch in order to generate word of mouth advertising. Movie studios buy out entire theater screens across the country. They use the money from their marketing budget to get people into the seats so they go to work or school and tell all their friends about the movie. They even encourage audiences to hit Facebook and Twitter with public reaction. This is done for one reason, people are more likely to believe their friends and normal people over commercials, critics, and celebrities.

In terms of savings, let’s do some real quick math. I’m going to make the numbers simple and say that a bargain matinée ticket for the latest 3D animated movie is $10, which of course is a low ball number. A family of four is going to drop $40 bucks for just 90 minutes of entertainment. That’s not even including popcorn, candy, and sodas. If there is one animated movie per month, then a mom and dad are going to annually spend close to $500 in just movie tickets. Now that’s just one movie a month. I see anywhere from four to ten movies a month and if you follow my step by step guide then so will you as I teach you how to save hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Bored-audience-in-movie-theater-jpg

Now there are some pros and unfortunately some cons to advanced screenings

PROS:

You get to see the movie early. Most of the time it’s just a week to couple days early, but sometimes I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some two months prior to their nationwide release date.

You can get free stuff. I’ve walked away from screenings with free posters and t-shirts. Lots of times during kids movies the PR firms or local radio stations will give away coloring and activity books and other cool trinkets to the kids in attendance. I’ve also received special collector edition 3D glasses from specific movies. On some rare occasions, some movies even gave away free small popcorn and sodas.

Sometimes celebrities show up. In certain cities, the screening is the world premier, especially if the movie was shot in that city. I’ve attended screenings with the actors and directors of the movie. Sometimes they speak to the crowd prior and thank them for coming out or have a Q&A session afterwards.

It’s a party. Local radio stations will have contests and interact with the people patiently waiting. At Disney movies, there are sometimes Radio Disney representatives that play music and have the kids get up out of their seats to have fun prior to the movie. They also do contests to keep the kids from being bored.

It’s all completely free! If a screening happens to also be in 3D, IMAX, or on a special screen presentation like XD or RDX, there is no upcharge.

CONS:

Screenings are only shown in major metropolitan markets. If you live in the middle of nowhere or out in the country, don’t expect a screening to come to your area.

Be prepared to travel. Even if you live in a big city, the screenings may not take place in your neighborhood. You may have to drive all the way on the other side of town or to a nearby suburb.

Screenings are like a concerts in that they are hosted on specific dates at specific times. If you work second shift or have other commitments, you won’t be able to attend. Most screenings occur Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday at either 7:00 or 7:30 pm. One thing that is nice is that most family movie screenings are held on Saturday mornings so they don’t interfere with the school year.

Not every movie has a screening. Some screenings are private for press or special organizations. Some movies the studios don’t want anyone, including press, to see before it’s released nationwide. Movies that typically don’t have a screening are movies that even the studios know aren’t very good so they don’t want negative word of mouth before the movie is released.

Be prepared to go through security. Because the movie is early and the studios don’t want the film leaked early on the internet, security guards are hired to check bags and wand people in line to check for recording devices. In some occasions, electronic devices are not even allowed in the theaters. If you bring your cell phone to certain screenings, be prepared to either leave it in your car or have security bag and tag it for you to pick up after the movie is done.

The theaters will be packed. If you don’t like a crowded theater, then you may not want to attend. The movie studios buy out every seat in the house and it’s the job of PR firms to fill those seats. Some seats are also reserved for Press and VIP’s.

Be prepared to come early. Even if you obtain a screening pass, it’s no guarantee that you’ll get in. That fact is even stated in the fine print on the pass itself. The seats are first come first served and as I previously mentioned, it’s the job of the PR Firms to fill those seats. They do that by over booking the theaters. So if a theater seats roughly 400 people, they may give away 600 passes. The more popular a movie, the larger crowd will be there. If a screening is at 7pm, they start seating approximately one hour before hand. So you want to be at a screening no later than 90 minutes prior. For huge blockbusters like SPECTRE, Batman v Superman, Jurassic World, or Avengers, be prepared to show up two hours early unless you want to sit in the crappiest seats in the house, which more than likely will be the first two rows. Advanced screenings are not like regular releases. There are typically no trailers before hand. They promptly start at the time listed on the pass. If you don’t arrive early, you will be turned away.

So now that I’ve explained what screenings are and hopefully answered some questions you may have had, let me educate you on the tips, tricks and secrets to attending advanced movie screenings.

Step 1: Sign Up For Websites

Gofobo Logo

The absolute number one website on the internet to sign up for screening passes is Gofobo.com. It’s pretty much mandatory that you use this website. Once you sign up, you can check for movies in your area by zip code and pick a radius you’re willing to travel. Up until recently, Gofobo was the only site, but now some studios have cut out the middle man and made their own screening pass websites.

Here is a list of those websites

Sonyscreenings.com (Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures) Movies like 22 Jump Street, RoboCop, and The Monuments Men

SeeItFirst.net (Walt Disney Pictures) Movies like Million Dollar Arm, Muppets Most Wanted, Need for Speed, and Delivery Man

FoxSearchlightScreenings.com (Fox Searchlight Pictures) Movies like Grand Budapest Hotel

RelativityScreenings.com (Relativity Media) Movies like Earth to Echo, Brick Mansions, and Oculus

LionsGateScreenings.com (Lionsgate Entertainment) Movies like The Quiet Ones and The Hunger Games

WBtickets.com (Warner Bros. Pictures) Movies like Get Hard, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Run All Night

Universal Pictures also has a website, but the links only pop up when the screening are available. You’ll sign up for account with the specific link.

What’s nice about all these websites is that once you attend one screening, you’ll start to get emailed invitations for future screenings

Insider Trick: When you get a pass, it’s usually for only you and one guest. And while some family movies are family 4 packs, if you have a large family like mine, you’ll need extra passes. Sign up for two accounts: one in your name and the other the name of someone in your household that way if you have a big family or want to take friends, everyone is covered.

Step 2: Obtain RSVP Codes

AdvanceScreenings Logo

Some of the websites I mentioned before will have open screenings that you just click and obtain your passes, but the majority of screenings are only available with an RSVP code. You can get codes from TV and radio contests or even your local free paper. But I am going to tell you how to get them even easier.

Insider Trick: Sign up for your local radio and television email newsletters. Most PR firms will give away passes through contests and instead of checking those websites everyday for new contest, they will just email you when contest become available.

Follow these two simple websites and their social media: AdvanceScreenings.com and GetScreening.com. Both websites are up to date on not just the latest screenings, but they do all the work for you in providing links and RSVP codes. I recommend both as key resources because one website may have info that the other does not. What also makes them both fantastic resources is that each site has specific twitter accounts based on geography. So for example if you live in Florida, you’ll want to follow @FLScreenings and @GetScreeningFL. If you live in New York, follow @NYScreenings and @GetScreeningNY. Another great feature with both websites is that you can get notified by email when a screening pop up in your area.

GetScreening Logo

Insider Trick: When you follow the specific screening accounts on twitter, make sure you turn on your notifications. Each time they tweet, your phone will send you an alert. I even have my cell phone linked to my Twitter so those notifications also send me a text message in case I’m in an area that doesn’t have the best internet coverage.

Sometimes those websites don’t always get the info fast enough before passes run out. So who else you want to follow for RSVP codes are the actual PR companies themselves. There are a lot of small regional firms out there but the largest nationwide firm is Allied Integrated Marketing (formerly 43KIX). Allied has Facebook and Twitter accounts but they also have regional ones as well. For example if you live in Los Angeles, you want to follow @AlliedIMLA on Twitter and like AlliedIMLA on Facebook. Make sure you turn on your Facebook and Twitter notifications or you could miss out when they post new RSVP codes and links.

43Kix Logo

Insider Trick: Not all screenings are run by Allied. If you start attending screenings and not sure what PR firm is handling the screenings in your area, just ask the person who is collecting the movie passes. They will be happy to tell you what company they work for and their social media accounts. Remember, it’s the PR’s job to fill seats and you following them on Facebook and Twitter helps them accomplish that.

Step 3: Team Up With Friends and Family

You don’t really want have to babysit the internet all day and you don’t want to go by yourself. So why not work together with friends and family? On Facebook there are secret movie screening clubs from all over the United States. They work together with the goal of everyone being taken care of. Maybe one movie you don’t have passes for but someone in your group does. This is a chance to make obtaining free movies as a team. But let’s say you don’t have friends and family. If you start going to screenings, you’ll notice the same group of people always attending. These are the veterans that have been doing this for a while and already know the system. Approach them and make new friends.

Insider Trick: If you are in a group with people you really trust, you can share your website log in info so if a RSVP code pops up you can put codes into your friend’s account or have passes put into yours. Remember only do this with people you absolutely trust.

Step 4: Get Discounts on Concessions

Regal Crown Club Free Popcorn

Regal Crown Club Coupon for Free Popcorn

Not only do you want to sign up for all those previously mentioned websites and social media accounts for free movies, but also sign up for your local theaters national websites like Cinemark.com, RegMovies.com, and AMCTheaters.com. If you have a smart phone also download their aps. Cinemark emails weekly coupons plus rewards you for putting your phone in Cinemode during a movie. Regal Theaters posts a monthly coupon on their app plus has nationwide free screenings posted in their Crown Club email newsletters. It’s also a good idea to like their official accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

Insider Trick: My personal favorite theater chain is Cinemark because every year they sell refillable cups and popcorn buckets. You can buy them towards the end of the year and they are good for the entire next year. It’s an initial investment as they sell for $14 for the pair, but it’s only $3.50 to refill them every time you return. If you sign up for the Cinemark email newsletter or Facebook page, then you can use the coupons you get in conjunction with the refillable cup and bucket. When I go to the theater for a screening, I get to see the movie for free and only pay $3.50 for a large soda and a medium popcorn with the buy one get one free coupons I get in the emails. Can you imagine my overall savings by seeing a movie for free and only paying $3.50 for refreshments compared to what you are paying now?

With a Cinemark coupon like this used with the refillable cup and bucket. You'll only be paying $3!

With a Cinemark coupon like this used with the refillable cup and bucket. You’ll only be paying $3!

Step 5: Enjoy!

The tips, tricks, and secrets may initially seem complicated and overwhelming, but once you sign up for the right websites and pay attention to your social media, you won’t believe how easy it is to see free movies.

Do you already attend screenings? Do you have any questions for your area? Write your comments below with your questions or comments.

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  • These signup websites are a scam, just harvesting your email address. They are not owned or sanctioned by the movie studios.

    • Well Mr. Troll, you are absolutely wrong. The sites are not scans and the sites like WBTickets and SonyScreenings are indeed run by the studios. I’ve been using my methods and the sites for almost 5 years now and have never had a problem.

      And for “harvesting” your email, what do you think every website on the internet does? Why not have one commercial email to use that doesn’t link to personal data?

  • Addison

    I recently acquired passes from Lionsgate Screenings but when I called the theater that the passes were for, they had no idea what I was talking about. This all seems like a scam to me.

    • The theater doesn’t run the screenings, the PR firm does. Most employees will have no idea about the screening until the day of, that’s if they are told by their manager.

      Screenings don’t show up in the theater’s regular scheduling. If you need to ask anyone at the theater, ask a manager.

      I assure it’s not a scam. I’ve been doing this for over 4 years.

    • EshamTheUnholy

      Not a scam,

  • xxiiiSkiLLz

    This sounds very overwhelming. Seriously, what are the odds of actually being able to receive free tickets? Are you receiving them quicker because of who you are and how popular you have become? I would hate to do all this and not receive tickets because im an unknown.

    • At first it can be very overwhelming, but once you figure out how the screenings work in your area, you’ll find out it’s not really hard. The best place to start is by following the twitter and facebook accounts I mentioned.

      • xxiiiSkiLLz

        Sounds good, thanks for the reply. The most difficult part of the article was when you talked about winning a raffle or something on a radio station. That is very hard to do.

        • PR firms only give to radio stations about 50 pairs of passes to giveaway. The other 150-250 sets are given away from other sources. Trust me, I win radios station giveaways all the time.

  • corrientelatina

    CorrienteLatina.com – we also do screenings as well. take a look.

  • Really good article. Do you go to press screenings? If so what is the best way to get into those if you write reviews?

    • I do attend some press screenings, but that’s only half. The other half I uses the exact same methods I write about in my article.

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