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The Popcorn Index: the cheapest UK locations for a family cinema trip

Stacking up the popcorn, drinks and tickets, the cost of a family cinema outing seems to have skyrocketed in recent years. But is this the case for families throughout the UK? To answer this question, we’ve researched cinema prices in the 20 most populated UK cities.

 

From this data, we’ve put together the Popcorn Index. Based on the price of a regular popcorn, a regular drink, two adult tickets and two child tickets for an evening showing,* this index shows some serious regional variation.

 

The headline news is that Cardiff is by far the cheapest location in which to visit the pictures: the average cost of a family cinema outing is just £26.93 there, almost half the price of the equivalent trip out in London! The next cheapest locations were Stoke-on-Trent at £33.35 and York at £33.87.

 

Overall, we found that the cheapest individual cinema was the Film Unit Cinema at the University of Sheffield. The whole trip would cost just £14.70 at this venue: tickets for the family would set you back just £9 whilst the popcorn and drink cost £5.70. The next cheapest venues were the York Student Theatre (£18.30) and the Premiere Cinema Cardiff (£20.70).

 

It’ll come as a surprise to no one that, even taking independent venues into account, London is the most expensive city for a family cinema trip at an eye-watering average of £49.76. Northampton and Liverpool are the next most expensive cinema locations, averaging out at £41.01 and £40.04 respectively.

 

Here’s the full list of cities that we researched along with the average price of a family cinema outing:

 

RankLocationAverage Cost of a Family Cinema Trip
1

Cardiff

£26.93

2

Stoke-on-Trent

£33.35

3

York

£33.87

4

Sheffield

£34.40

5

Southampton

£34.83

6

Coventry

£35.12

7

Leicester

£36.07

8

Glasgow

£36.52

9

Leeds

£36.89

10

Exeter

£37.12

11

Birmingham

£37.24

12

Bristol

£37.62

13

Manchester

£37.73

14

Newcastle

£38.61

15

Nottingham

£38.71

16

Edinburgh

£39.37

17

Oxford

£39.92

18

Liverpool

£40.04

19

Northampton

£41.01

20

London

£49.76

 

We spoke to Jordon Cox, Britain's ‘Coupon Kid’ best known for his money saving advice on, who gave us a few tips on how to best save money when going to the cinema.

 

“Cinemas are becoming increasingly expensive, where a family trip could set you back £50+. Luckily there are a few ways to cut costs. Purchasing food and snacks at the cinema can cost more than the ticket, that’s why you need to plan ahead and bring your own food. Every major cinema has the same policy for outside food - you can bring in anything, as long as it’s not hot food. Buying a £1 supermarket popcorn over a £5 bucket will save you £4 per head which can add up to huge savings.

 

One of the best ways to save money is to get 2for1 cinema tickets for a year with meerkat movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you don’t have meerkat movies, you can get it for just £1 using a sneaky hack. You unlock the promotion by purchasing any insurance through Compare The Market, whatever the price. If you want, you can purchase the cheapest insurance (which is a day’s travel insurance holidaying in the UK) and it comes out at £1.01. After purchase, you’ll have a years 2for1 movies (and you’ll also get 2for1 meals too!)”

 

*Five cinemas were chosen in each location, with a mixture of independent and chain cinemas being selected (this number was chosen because in certain locations there were only five cinemas to choose from). The average costs were calculated by adding up the cost of evening showing tickets for two adults and two children, a regular popcorn, and a regular drink at each venue, then working out the average.

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