What Is a Matinee Movie Ticket? Why is it Cheaper?

If you would have asked me what a matinee was as an adolescent I would have shown you a picture of an endearing sea cow. The truth is, this word has permeated the English language for some time and little of the population is familiar with what it really means.

Thankfully, for my fellow amateur marine biologists, this article can confidently cover everything that a matinee entails and why it may be a wise alternative to the typical moviegoing experience.

To make a long story short, a matinee is a daytime showing of a film that typically costs a few bucks less than a nighttime screening.

Typically speaking, a matinee is going to be anywhere from dawn to mid-afternoon, though this varies depending on the franchise you are going to. You will learn all of this and more as we go over the benefits of a matinee in as much detail as you can find on the internet.

What is a Matinee Movie Ticket?

If we are speaking very technically, a matinee does not specifically refer to films. A matinee is just a form of entertainment that takes place during the day.

This can range from the movie theater to broadway, the circus to the gladiatorial games, and much more. Simply put, if something is being viewed that is described as entertainment before dusk hits, it is a matinee. The term originates from France and translates to “morning performance” – never let it be said that we don’t educate on Swift Moves.

Now when we discuss a matinee movie ticket we are speaking specifically about the morning to afternoon film screenings. The first reason these are separated is that typically speaking a matinee movie ticket is going to run a good bit cheaper than an evening show ticket. Secondly, they are separated because as a majority of matinee screenings are always quite a bit less occupied than nighttime shows.

There are a few different reasons for the cheaper price and fewer occupied seats for a matinee from an evening showing (AKA a soiree, if you ever want to mildly annoy a date). Most folks make their monthly income during the day, making a matinee impossible for the average full-time employee. Additionally, the average person doesn’t want to get out of the house during the day to catch a film, preferring dinner and a movie. To combat this midday lull, theater franchises have incentivized consumers with lower prices in the hopes that it will bring in more customers.

It should be stated that not every theater offers matinee movie tickets or the lower prices that come with them. If the foot traffic is light enough, several historical and locally-owned theaters have taken to only offering evening screenings. This is because the attendance of earlier shows is so low that they are running at a loss paying employees for movies that amount to little more than five to ten viewers. For this reason, it is good to check with your local theater to make sure they offer earlier showtimes before wasting gas on the drive.

The most likely theaters to feature matinee showings are going to be in larger cities with higher populations or in areas where the theater has a monopoly on the area. Franchises like Regal, AMC, and Alamo are also more likely to keep their doors open regardless of how fervent the foot traffic is in the area.

Benefits of Matinee Movie Tickets

At the risk of sounding redundant the most obvious benefit is the discounted price of a ticket. You also get the benefit of not having to wait in long lines and typically get a much faster, easier experience overall. This makes it a lot more lucrative for those who don’t have daytime shifts, work till morning, or are uncomfortable around large crowds.

Most theaters that offer films in premium formats will still charge the additional fee that comes with IMAX, 3D, Dolby, etc. An added plus is often there will be other discounts that go along with matinee times, cheaper concessions, free refills, and more. To get a better idea of the deals your local theater might offer, give them a call or look on their website.

Movie Theater Matinee Times & Prices

If you live next to a theater that is run by your friend’s second cousin, we can’t help you. On a more positive note, the biggest franchises have conveniently listed their prices and times (these may fluctuate on location) for you to get a better idea of exactly when you can capitalize on this midday discount. I’ll go over AMC, Cinemark, and Regal in more detail below.

AMC offers matinee prices that take off thirty percent of the nighttime showings. On average, this amounts to tickets that cost around 7 dollars. The price may increase for premium film formats, though the 30% discount is still applied. They are pretty flexible with the times, as long as you show up before 4 PM you should be good to go!

Cinemark changed up its price list for 2022 and is now considerably cheaper than its competitors when it comes to the “early bird” special. Tickets are reportedly anywhere from 4.25 to 6.50 depending on the area. They do make a distinction between morning, midday, and afternoon so you should expect a small bump in price should you show up past lunchtime or later.

Regal doesn’t have a lot of reliable information on its discounts towards the morning hours, though we were able to find a few price listings. When I scheduled in a morning movie in my local theater, matinee pricing sat at 8.25 across the board on Tuesday. This is due to a franchise-wide discount on the Tuesday of every week. If you have a Regal close by and want to get the best price for a ticket (and discounted popcorn), head there Tuesday morning.


No one ever boasts about the reasonably priced concessions at their local movie theater. Considering that you will pay 2.75 for a bottle of water you could get from a vending machine for a third of the price, you deserve cheaper tickets. The best time to find those are in the early hours of the morning to midday, so look up local matinee prices to find a good deal!