Movies: can you even afford it anymore?

I love the movies. I love the whole experience of going to the theater: the big screen, the digital sound, the popcorn oozing with that fake "butter." I love it all. Before I was a mom I was a regular movie goer, especially when I was a student. The local theater had a student discount program and a frequent movie goer deal that let you earn free movie tickets/snacks.

But that was a long time ago. Since becoming a mom I've been to the movies once (to see the Harry Potter flick). Sophie was about two months old. We hired a babysitter. We didn't go out before or after in order to minimize the cost of babysitting (and because I was too nervous to leave her any longer than that). We live in a small town, so prices are a little cheaper than for most.

Babysitter for almost four hours (including 45-60 minutes to and from theater): $20

Tickets (matinee): $14

Snacks: $11

Total: $45

Wow, when I write it out like that it hurts my wallet a little.
I'd say it was worth it, but it's something we just can't afford to do all of the time. And the crazy thing is, when I talk to my friends who live in large urban areas, they pay double! Their babysitters cost about $10. My sister, who lives in Detroit, says the movies are up to $10 for a ticket, and there's talk of increasing the price. There's no discount for being a student like there was when I was a kid. I'm sure the price in big cities like New York is double.

How can anyone afford going to the movies these days?

We rented a movie last night from one of the self-serve kiosks and paid $1 (plus tax). We watched it on our large TV screen (not HD but a great picture if you ask me). We had snacks (I made strawberry shortcake). We didn't have to hire a babysitter. Hell, we didn't have to change out of our pajamas.

I can't help but wonder if the movie theater experience is going to become a thing of the past. I'd hate for that to happen, because I do look forward to the day when I can take my daughter to see a movie. But in the age of cheap movie rentals and downloadable flicks from the web, is society going to stop going to the movies?

What about you? Do you still go to the theater?
Amy blogs over at This Northern Life.

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