Cheap seats: A guide to Buffalo’s big screens on a budget

A trip to the movie theater is the quintessential night out for most. It’s a chance to escape the doldrums of everyday life and sit in an air-conditioned room for a few hours watching beautiful people do amazing things on the big screen. 

That is, until the high school kid behind the counter asks for $11 for a single ticket. That’s not including the extra $15 you’ll spend on concessions and if you plan on paying for your date, forget about it. You’d have to be one of the actors starring in the movie you planned to see to afford that.

Luckily there are a few options around the Buffalo area that will let you catch the latest films without emptying your wallet.

Dipson McKinley 6

McKinley Mall, 3701 McKinley Pkwy, Buffalo, NY 14219

This theater looks pretty beat upon first look, located at the back of the mall. The ticket booth up front is perpetually closed, meaning moviegoers will have to purchase their ticket at the concession stand in the tacky, wood-paneled lobby.

Standard tickets run a measly $2.50 at the Dipson, which is a second run theater, meaning it does not show the very latest releases. Typically, a month or so after a movie premieres at your standard multiplex, it will pop up at the Dipson.

The exact length of time it will take between the major theater chain and its Dipson premiere depends on how well that specific movie performed at the box office. But those with a little patience are rewarded with the cheapest movie ticket and most comfortable seats around.

Last winter, the theater renovated the all of the screening rooms, removing the standard stadium seating with cozy leather recliners which make it almost impossible to stay awake for an entire film. With those prices, it’s not too big a loss.

The discount stops at the ticket unfortunately, as concessions are typically overpriced. If you’re brave enough, stock up on snacks beforehand and sneak them in “Midnight Express”-style.

If the McKinley Mall is too far of a commute for you, the Amherst Dipson located across the street from South Campus also offers a student discount with a valid UB ID. Show up on a Tuesday, and you’ll get half-priced popcorn and fountain drinks as well. This location has a strange movie lineup which changes almost every day, so check out their website to make sure they’re showing something you’ve been dying to see.

Current Recommendation: “The Shallows”

Hamburg Palace

31 Buffalo St., Hamburg, NY 14075

The Palace harkens back to a simpler time in cinema history. This building located in the village of Hamburg was built in 1926 and houses a single screen. This means the theater typically chooses a single feature and plays it for one-week stretches or more depending on the popularity.

An adult ticket costs $7 and, though not exactly ’20s prices, it is more manageable than your typical chain theater.

Concessions are reasonable when compared to other theaters, so it’s worth it to spend a few dollars at the concession stand to support a locally owned and operated business if that’s your thing.

The film selection is usually quite good. The theater plays most of the big blockbusters in the summer and the big Oscar contenders once award season rolls around, so it’s always worth it to check their website every Friday to see what will be playing the coming week.

Current Recommendation: “Florence Foster Jenkins”is currently the only option, but that will change to “Jason Bourne” this coming Friday.

Regal Cinemas

Many Locations

It does not get any more basic when it comes to chain multiplexes then Regal Cinemas. It might as well be wearing a PINK sweater and white Chucks while sipping on some Starbucks – which is actually served at the concession stand. Go figure.

The seating is standard stadium seating – not overly comfortable, but won’t hurt your backside. Snacks are pricey, but offer a nice variety. Along with the traditional candy and popcorn, moviegoers can eat a full-fledged meal by ordering hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza, making a pre-movie dinner optional.

The main draw, however, is Regal’s Tuesday nights. Many consider the movies a weekend-only activity, but if your classes wrap up early on a Tuesday afternoon change things up a bit and take in a show.

Regal Crown Club cardholders pay a meager $6.50 (or $6.10 if you go to the Walden Galleria) for their tickets on Tuesdays as opposed to the standard $11. It’s free and quick to sign up; just ask the ticket seller if they don’t offer one to you, which they generally will.

Cardholders also rack up points with each dollar spent, which can be redeemed later on for free snacks or even free tickets if they add up fast.

Current Recommendation: “Hell or High Water” – Ben Foster is the man.

Davis Tunis-Garcia is an assistant arts editor and can be reached at: Follow him on Twitter at @davidubspectrum.