Bargains at Long Island movie theaters
The economy may look like a horror-show, but movie theaters are still packing in the crowds.
There's a reason: Even with pricey popcorn and sodas, an evening at the movies is still affordable. In January, the average price of a movie ticket in the United States was $7.29, up by a mere 11 cents from a year ago, according to Media by Numbers.
On Long Island, the price is probably more like $8 or $9, but that's still a bargain compared to the cost of a Broadway play, a sporting event or a concert.
Still not cheap enough for you? Movie theaters around Long Island offer some impressive deals, and not just for matinees. At least one venue has evening tickets as low as $4, while others come in at $6 or less. (Some theaters may exclude holidays and certain studio films from bargains.)
Here's a look at five movie bargains:
Elwood Cinemas: 1950 Jericho Tpke., Elwood, 631-499-7800
The deal: $4 all day and night on Tuesdays
The place: Four screens. Small and cozy, with an emphasis on kids' films. You'll find more ice cream choices than usual, and a $5 kids' combo that includes popcorn, soda and candy.
Inside tip: Tuesdays aren't the only bargain. Monday is ladies' night - and day - for $5. The theater says guys may get their own day soon.
The Bellmore Movies: 222 Pettit Ave., Bellmore, 516-783-7200
The deal: $5.50 all day and night on Tuesdays
The place: One screen. The building dates to at least 1912 - this is no tricked-out multiplex. Husband-and-wife owners Henry and Anne Stampfel keep the place in good shape and tend to emphasize grown-up studio fare and intelligent dramas.
Inside tip: Last one to find a seat? No worries: Even if you're forced into the front row, the screen is set back at a comfortable viewing distance.
South Bay Cinemas: 495 Montauk Hwy., West Babylon, 631-587-7676
The deal: $5 matinees before 6 p.m. every day
The place: Five screens. Creaky but functional. Parking is abundant, and the staff doesn't seem to mind if you bring coffee from the nearby Starbucks. Also, check your calendar: If school's in session, weekday screenings may not start until evening.
Inside tip: Up for a Thursday premiere at midnight? Even not-so-anticipated films - like "Confessions of a Shopaholic" - get the pre-Friday treatment here.
Seaford Cinemas: 3951 Merrick Rd., Seaford, 516-409-8700
The deal: $6 all day and night on Tuesdays, and $6 before 6 p.m. every day
The place: Eight screens. Manager Susan Bendheim is a mom and runs the place like one. She's not shy about ousting underage kids from R-rated flicks and even calling their parents.
Inside tip: Looking for the best seats? In Theater 1, manager-projectionist Madlyn Glazer says they're in the center of the back section, where the speakers hit you perfectly with surround-sound effects.
PJ Cinemas: 1068 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station, 631-928-3456
The deal: $5 before 6 p.m. every day
The place: Seven screens. Phil Solomon brings a quirky charm to this venue, which he's owned since 1982. When not answering phones, taking tickets or selling concessions, he might snap your photo and turn you into one of the acrylic portraits in the lobby.
Inside tip: Even if you know what you want to see, call to hear Solomon's subtly opinionated and often hilarious recorded message.
Explore LI readers have been weighing in on the Island's top movie theaters. This is the most popular recommended spot for seeing bargain movies.
The deal: $5-$7
The place: First-run movies can be screened at this old-fashioned theater for $5 for showtimes before 6 p.m. and until close Tuesday nights. Otherwise, adult tickets cost $7.
Shawna Van Ness contributed to this article