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How to see movies at theaters for free

You can see major films before they're released to the general public. Here's how to find them.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 22, 2011 8:31AM

This post comes from Daniel Packer at partner blog Wise Bread.


I know this sounds amazing, and there's a kicker: You can see movies in theaters for free BEFORE they're released to the general public.


It sounds too good to be true, but it can be done really easily. For the past year or so, I have been attending movies in theaters before they've been released. I pay nothing to see them and, to top it off, there are often no previews.


Some movie studios provide free screenings of movies. They do this to build interest in a movie, to do research, and to allow the press to review it. If people have a good experience, they'll tell their friends good things about the film. 

These are the same movies you can see a few weeks later for $12 a pop. I saw "The Green Hornet" (awesome movie!), "The Next Three Days," and "Limitless," among others, all a few weeks before they were released to the general public, and all for the family friendly price of "on the house." (See also: "Never pay for a RedBox DVD rental again.")


How to do it. It's a very simple process; you just need to know where to look. There are two main sites that I frequent -- GoFobo and Film Metro -- though I'm sure there are others I haven't heard of. In some cases, you just need to reserve and print your tickets (each reservation typically comes with two). For some movies, you'll need an RSVP code first. A good place to look for those is, where people enter city and movie-specific codes for others to use.


What to know before attending. There are several things you should keep in mind for these screenings:

  • Reserving a ticket doesn't guarantee you access to a movie. For most movies, people enter on a first-come, first-served basis. I usually find that getting to the theater 30 minutes early is plenty.
  • Not every movie will be available. I've never been disappointed by the selection, but when movies are free, it's a little difficult to complain if something's not perfect.
  • It might not work in rural areas. If you live in the middle of Montana, it's unlikely that there are a lot of screenings in your area. I live in Washington, D.C., where free screenings are common.

Enjoy your new knowledge, and feel free to go crazy with the popcorn and soda. When you save $20-plus on a movie, there's no harm in splurging a little on the snacks.


More on Wise Bread and MSN Money:

Jun 23, 2011 2:42AM

I've worked in a movie theatre and 30 minutes is NOT "plenty" of time, depending on the movie. We've had it where there were people lining up as early as 2pm for a 7pm movie. By time 5pm would roll around, there were at least 100 people waiting in line, and by 630pm, it was full.

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