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The Tip Jar: Best places to catch a cheap movie in the Twin Cities

Want to catch a movie but not pay $10 for a ticket? Here's a guide to the cheapest cinema deals.

I don't know about you, but as much as I love going to movie theater, I find myself going less and less seeing as how convenient streaming and services like RedBox have become.

It's rare that I want to see a movie so much that I can't wait six months for it to come out on demand. Part of the reason is my nearest cinema charges more than $10 for a movie I could watch from the comfort of my own couch a few months later for just a few bucks, with snacks that don't cost a fortune.

But this doesn't change my view that there's nothing like seeing a movie in the theater, which is why I've scouted Twin Cities cinemas to find the best deals for a cheap movie night.

When to go

Movie theaters rarely have set prices for every single showing. There are cheaper deals to be had if you go on certain days of the week, times of the day and if you're a student or a senior citizen.

Tuesday is the day most movie theaters run some kind of discount. And for times, day-time matinees are your best bet for cheap tickets. Most theaters will have cheaper tickets for shows before 6 p.m., while some lower prices further if you watch in the morning.

Tickets for less than $5

There are a decent number of $2 or $3 movie theaters across the Twin Cities, but it's worth noting that you're probably not going to be seeing the latest releases at these smaller, mostly independent venues.

Current movies showing at some of these theaters are a few months old. So if you're OK waiting a little while then you can get the proper cinematic experience at the price of a DVD or online rental.

Here are some of the best deals I found:

Riverview Theater

This 1948 neighborhood movie theater at 3800 42nd Ave. S in Minneapolis charges $2 for matinees before 6 p.m. and $3 for adult evening shows. All shows on Tuesdays are $2, and tickets for children up to 11 and seniors aged 62-plus are $2 all the time.

The Plaza Theater Maplewood

Prices are kept simple at this small theater on Larpenteur Ave to the northeast of St. Paul. It's $3 for all shows and just $2 on Tuesday – and there are no different prices for kids or seniors.

Hopkins Cinema 6

This Mann Theaters cinema in Hopkins has six screens, yet still charges just $3 for general admission and $2.50 for any show on Tuesdays, $2.50 for matinees any day, and $2.50 for seniors and children under 11 any time. Mann has nine theaters across the state.

Cinema Grill New Hope

This cozy location on Winnetka Avenue North has a bit of everything. Three showrooms – which show live standup and sports as well as movies – are attached to a full-service restaurant and bar so everything you need is in one place. It charges $4 for adults, $3 for children or seniors any time, and $3 for matinees before 5:30 p.m. Then it's $2 for everybody on Tuesdays, all day.

Cheapest theaters for new releases

My nearest theater to catch the latest release is an AMC which charges $10.99 for regular tickets (plus a surcharge if I want to watch in 3-D). Even its afternoon matinee tickets aren't a great deal at $9.49, with a $5.49 morning ticket about the cheapest I can get.

I want cheaper, as close to $5 as possible. So here are ones I found that have either low general admission prices or some good deals on matinees or Tuesdays.

St. Michael Cinema

It can be a bit of a trek to St. Michael, along I-94 to the northwest of the Twin Cities metro, but this Parisian-themed theater (see the picture below) counts a monster, 70-foot "Eiffel" 4K HD screen among its 15 screens.

It charges $7 for admission, plus $5 for children 12 and under and seniors 65 and over. Matinees before 6 p.m. are $5 every day, and there's a surcharge of just $1 for 3-D movies.

Showplace ICON West End

The ICON in St. Louis Park's West End has the size and flash of your typical multiplex, but without the prices. All tickets on Tuesdays run just $5.36. And its general admission price of $8.05 for adults isn't too bad either. Discounts are available to Showplace Extra members.

Emagine Cinemas

Emagine has eight movie theaters mainly located in the Twin Cities exurbs, with Lakeville, Delano, Monticello and Rogers among its locations.

Prices vary depending on location – its Rogers theater charges $7 for adults and $5 for kids/seniors, whereas Lakeville charges $10 and $8. But all of its theaters have $5 tickets on Tuesdays, which is a decent deal for the latest release.

St. Anthony Main Theatre

The famous small theater on the banks of the Mississippi in Minneapolis shows a smattering of new releases while giving visitors a traditional, independent cinema experience.

Regular prices are $8.50, or $6 for matinees (before 6 p.m.), students, children and seniors. But most shows are $5 on Tuesdays.

Woodbury 10

Ten screens of the newest releases at 1470 Queens Drive in the east metro suburb, and the most you're going to pay is $7 for an adult ticket at an evening show. Children under 12 cost $5 as do seniors aged 55-plus. Admission before 6 p.m. is $5 for everyone.

Marcus Theatres

Marcus has 11 theaters across Minnesota, including in Duluth and Rochester as well as some near the Twin Cities in Shakopee, Oakdale and Rosemount.

Again, prices vary between locations, but general admission for evening shows breaks the $10 mark for adults. However it has a series of $5 deals, including on Tuesdays, and before 11 a.m. for students on Thursdays, as well as senior matinees.

Mann Theatres Plymouth

After the Hopkins location, the most reasonable Mann Theatre can be found in Plymouth, which has 15 screens of new releases with deals that can be reasonable if you go at the right time.

Tuesday is $5 all day, while on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays it's $6 for everyone before 6 p.m. – after which it increases to $8.50 for adults and $6.50 for children/seniors. From Friday through Sunday it's $6 for everyone before noon, then prices rise for the afternoon and evening showings.

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