Let’s face it – movies are expensive. It can easily cost $50 just for tickets for a family of 4 to see a movie on a weekend evening. Problem is – my kids love movies and the theater experience so we have gotten creative and found some economical solutions.
Here is our list of places we go for cheap and FREE movies. And at the bottom I shared my ultimate secret weapon for movies as a parent – it is my go to site to decide if I’m ok with my child seeing a particular movie. Trust me – you want to bookmark this!
First Run Movies
AMC Theatres $6.19 or less/seat
These Nashville area AMC Theatres offers movie tickets for $6 on shows between 4 -6:30 PM. Join the AMC Stubs program to get discounts.
UEC Theatres – $5.50/seat
Visit a UEC Theatre on Tuesdays and all tickets are $5.50 plus if you have a UEC loyalty card, you get a FREE 46 oz popcorn! Have a young child? Children ages 2 and under (so before his/her 3rd birthday) are FREE to any show! The theater in Lebanon was recently updated and all auditoriums have power reclining seats.
NCG Cinema – $5/seat
Matinees are $5 for tickets every day until 6PM. On Tuesdays, tickets are $5 for most shows (3D movies are an additional charge).
Art and Historical Theaters
Hillsboro Village (Map)
The Belcourt has changed in 2020 and is showing new movies as well as some classics. At the moment, their Saturday morning family movies are not on the schedule. However, keep an eye out, they may come back. If you have a child that is 11 months or younger and will sit in your lap can enjoy the movie for FREE! Some weeks instead of movies there are live theatre performances for families by the Olde Worlde Theatre Company which is also a bargain. Performances are general admission and are $10/seat.
The historic Franklin Theatre is a mix use facility. It started as a movie theater and now hosts plays and concerts as well. Movies are typically played during the middle of the week, Saturday mornings and Sundays. The schedule varies week to week – see the current schedule HERE. Tickets for first run movies are $7 for adults and $6 for children.
Capitol Theatre – $6.25/seat
The Capitol Theatre is located off the square in Lebanon, TN. They show classic family films (think Goonies and Indiana Jones). Tickets are $5 with a $1.25 service fee per seat.
Stardust Drive In – $8.50/adult, $6.50/Kids (age 6 to 11), 5 and Under FREE
The Stardust is a 2 screen old fashioned drive in. It is open from March through the end of October and shows double features. So, for one price you get 2 movies. In the spring and fall they are open for the weekends only but then expand their schedule over the summer. Go HERE to see the schedule and what movies are showing. Concessions are available or for a $6 fee you can bring in your own snacks and drinks.
Sarratt Cinema – FREE
The Sarratt Cinema is located on the first floor of the Sarratt Student Center on the Vanderbilt University campus. Check out this map for places to park on campus. This one is for families with older kids and teens. Children under 17 MUST be accompanied by an adult to all shows. You can see foreign films, independent movies and movies that have smaller releases here. Many of the movies have ties back to various academic departments at Vanderbilt University.
Libraries are great places to see FREE movies. There are movies for kids, teens, and families showing weekly at library branches all over middle Tennessee. Call your local library for more details or check one of these links:
Linebaugh Library ( Murfreesboro & Smyrna)
Parents’ Guide on the IMDB
Want more information about a movie before you take your child? Not sure if a PG-13 title has acceptable content for your 10 year old? My ‘go to’ for movie content is the IMDB (Internet Movie Database). The parent advisory content is a bit hidden so here is an example (I’m using Transformers here).
1. Go to the IMDB website and search for the movie you want to see (you will get more information about a movie if you wait until after the first weekend to search)
2. Here is the page for the original Transformers movie. Scroll down past the cast listing and the storyline. You should see “Motion Picture Rating” and then “Parent Guide”.
3. Follow the parent guide link “view advisory content” and you get this page which gives you specific details about any sexual content, violence, profanity, alcohol and drugs and frightening scenes. You may get some spoilers for you, but you also get detailed info so you can decide if a movie is appropriate for your child.
Lauren is a transplant from Texas and has become a local tourist exploring the area with her two children. She loves to discover new places in Nashville to share with others.