We all love going to the cinema, but it can seem like a luxury when a single ticket can cost up to £12 - that’s two whole months of Netflix! However, there’s an easy way to pick up free tickets and see films before they’re released to the general public.
Why are the tickets free?
Film companies want people to see films before they get released primarily to find out what normal cinemagoers are going to think of the film, but also to get free word of mouth advertising from the people who saw the preview. After all, what makes you want to go and see a new film more than one of your friends saying they loved it?
This is why companies like ShowFilmFirst put on free previews, tickets are offered to different people depending on what the film is, one person in our office gets emailed a lot of teen horror films, and another gets period dramas, it depends on your age and interests, what previews you choose to attend, and the quality of your feedback.
The way you “pay” for the tickets is by filling out a short survey that gets emailed to you after the film ends. It’ll never take you more than ten minutes to fill it out, and the more of these you fill out with your honest opinion, the more likely you are to be invited to more previews.
How does it work?
Once you get a link to a preview (we’ll explain how to get those later), and you find a cinema near you that’s showing the film, you need to apply for the tickets as quickly as possible. Locations in larger cities will sell out in minutes, and the locations change for every preview, so if your town isn’t there don’t worry, because it might be next time.
When you’ve logged in and applied for the ticket you’ll be emailed the physical ticket for you to print out. You do need to print it out, most cinemas aren’t going to accept it from your phone or tablet.
On the day of the screening we recommend getting there in good time. More tickets are given out than there are seats for the screening, so for particularly popular films you might not get a seat.
Don’t worry that the showing isn’t on the cinema listings, it’s a preview and tickets aren’t available for the general public to buy, so you won’t see it on the ODEON website.
How to get free cinema tickets
There are a few different ways to get your hands on tickets to free cinema previews, and it’s best to sign up to all of them for the best chance of getting free tickets.
Show Film First
Show Film First are the main supplier of free cinema tickets in the UK, and the best way to get invited to free showings is to sign up to get emails. You’ll be asked where you live and what type of films you enjoy in order to get sent tickets for showings you’d be interested in, in locations near you.
Sometimes Show Film First will be looking for a certain age range to watch a film, and will send out ‘invite only’ tickets that only people who’ve been emailed directly can claim. Other previews are open to anyone, and if you find a SFF code (a six digit number) you can enter it in the big box on the homepage and claim your tickets.
Codes are often posted on deal forums, and some of the best places to check for free tickets include the MSE Free Cinema Tickets thread and the HotUKDeals freebies section. You need to be quick though, a huge number of people check these forums so tickets don’t last long once they’re posted.
Too lazy to check forums? A sneaky tip is to sign up to the FreeCinema.co.uk newsletter, to get emailed as soon as a new showing goes online. Be warned that you’ll be spammed a little bit with deals that aren’t free cinema tickets, but it’s up to you if it’s worth it.
Student Money Saver
Show Film First send us tickets exclusively to hand out to students, it’s much easier to get free tickets through us, as you need to be a verified student to get them, so less people are snapping them up straight away. Just check our free cinema tickets section to see if there’s anything available at the moment, or sign up to our newsletter (no spam, we promise!) where we’ll let you know when a new one goes up.
We aren’t the only people Show Film First gives exclusive tickets to, you can also get them with your Times Student membership - it does cost £20 a year, but it also gets you 2 for 1 ODEON tickets too.