Cinema reopenings: How to save money

What’s reopening, when and how much tickets will cost.

After a year with very few cinemas open and very few big releases, the vast majority of cinemas will reopen in England, Scotland and Wales from Monday 17 May 2021, with those in Northern Ireland following a week later.

Here’s what you need to know, and my top ways to save money.

Which cinemas will reopen and when?

The vast majority of major chains are due to open, but even within the same chain you might find some venues open and others closed.

Here’s a quick guide to what’s happening with the major chains, but you’ll need to check with your local to be sure.

  • Cineworld – Wednesday 19 May
  • Curzon – Aldgate, Bloomsbury, Canterbury, Colchester, Knutsford, Oxford, Soho and Victoria are opening on 17 May, though the Mayfair, Richmond, Sheffield, Wimbledon will be on 4 June. There’s no date yet for Hoxton, Kingston or Ripon to open
  • Everyman – Monday 17 May (except Belsize Park)
  • Odeon – most screens will reopen on 17 May 2021, but to check local listings in case some are delayed
  • Picturehouse – all cinemas opening 19 May 2021
  • Showcase – Monday 17 May 2021
  • The Light – staggered opening from 17 to 28 May 2021
  • Vue – all venues from Monday 17 May

What films will be showing

Unlike reopenings last summer, it won’t be classic and cult films on the big screen. There are a handful of movies getting their first cinema release that you might have caught online, including Best Picture Winner Nomadland. And there are plenty of other new releases from 17 May, such as Peter Rabbit 2 and Spiral.

The bigger releases begin from June onwards, with A Quiet Place 2 on 3 June, followed by the likes of Black Widow and Fast and The Furious 9 in early July.

What to expect

Social distancing will be in force, with families and couples sat together and guaranteed empty seats between groups.  On one hand this means there will be fewer seats available to buy, but also means you won’t be stuck next to a noisy stranger. 

Booking online is encouraged to minimise interaction with staff, while hygiene precautions will also mean no pick and mix. Prepacked snacks will still be on sale and some might still offer popcorn (personally I’d stay clear). You will also have to wear a mask – so check before you go.

Will ticket prices be less?

Let’s face it, a lot of people aren’t going to be keen to visit a cinema just yet. And on top of that there won’t be any of the really big blockbusters until July. So I wouldn’t be surprised if ticket prices are lower during May and June to entice you back in.

For example, tickets seem to be cheap at all Vue sites, though the price depends on where you live.

A quick spot check found them at £7.99 at Vue Cambridge and £6.99 for Vue Islington and Vue Westfield. Even better, all showings were £4.99 at Vues in Accrington, Aberdeen and Hartlepool.

Some of the venues I looked at added an extra quid to the price on Friday and Saturday evenings. Still, much less than some of these would have charged pre-pandemic.

Odeon is also promoting discounted tickets on Monday and other times throughout the week.

However a quick look at my local Everyman cinema and prices are exactly as expensive as they’ve always been.

How to save money on your cinema visit

Whether your cinema is full price or discounted in the coming months, it’s often possible to reduce what you pay.

Look for special offers

There are usually a number of ways to bring down the price of cinema tickets – but not all of them are currently working. I’d hope some will be reactivated soon, but others might wait until most venues are open.

For offers where you buy cheap tickets from third parties make sure you have checked the direct prices in case they’re currently reduced.

Here are my picks of the offers, and I’ll update my cinema deals page whenever I spot more.

Free tickets with banks

You can claim six free cinema tickets by opening a Club Lloyds current account. These are valid at Odeon and Vue. The Halifax Reward account gives you a ticket to Vue every month, though there are more requirements to be eligible.

2-4-1 tickets with Meerkat Movies

Meerkat Movies will still give you 2-4-1 discounts on a Tuesday or Wednesday. If you don’t have this Compare the Market perk you can still take advantage of the hack by buying a single day UK travel insurance for around £1.

Reduced tickets via Lidl Plus

The Lidl Plus app will get you access to free Cinema Society membership, which offers discounted tickets at Odeon, Vue, Showcase, Empire and a handful of smaller chains.

Go a different day or time

If prices haven’t been dropped (I checked a couple of Everyman sites which are still charging their standard – and expensive – prices), then you can save by going off-peak.

Each venue will be different, but generally, you’ll pay the most at weekends and in the evenings. Some might have a set day each week which is cheaper.

Bring your own snacks

This is more a health and safety tip than anything, but I’d personally be bringing my own food and drink with me to reduce the chance of cross-contamination. On the plus side, it’ll also be a lot cheaper!


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