It's almost summer, the season when Hollywood rolls out a slew of sequels, blockbusters and indie films sure to satisfy most of our cravings for easy entertainment.
But if you haven't been to the movies in a while, you might be surprised to learn that prices at the box office are on the rise.
What's worse, said Andrea Woroch, a nationally recognized consumer and money-saving expert, is that moviegoers aren't likely to see any relief soon.
The inflated costs, however, don't have to deflate your desire to catch the season's best flicks on the big screen.
Budget-conscious consumers can choose instead to stay home and order from Netflix and Hulu Plus or Amazon, or just wait until the movie becomes available on cable. Local box office rates are $8 to $11 plus the outrageous cost of popcorn and pop.
But when you really want to see something on the big screen, try these suggestions:
Buy movie packs: This is the way to go for families. You can buy a four-pack of tickets from Costco, good for a variety of theaters, for just $34.99 and a 10-pack for $82.99. There's no expiration date and you can use the tickets seven days a week.
BulkTix.com also saves you an average of $2 to $3 off a ticket's face value for seven different chains.
Independent theaters: Local theaters, such as Edmonds Theater, Olympic Theatre in Arlington, Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon and the Clyde Theatre in Langley, offer general admission tickets ranging from $7 to $9, with price breaks for children, seniors and for matinee performances.
Edmonds, Olympic and the Clyde theaters show first-run films, and the Lincoln features foreign and independent films, special events, second-runs or classics.
And it's $3 for all shows all the time at the Crest Cinema Center in Shoreline, which shows second-run features.
Senior rates: Most theaters offer senior rates.
Early bird deals: Matinees can save you anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent off prime-time ticket prices.
Skip the concession stand: Eat before going so you won't be tempted by the smell of popcorn.
Use discount gift cards: Save 10 percent to 30 percent by purchasing discount movie theater gift cards from such sites as GiftCardGranny.com. In addition to saving instantly on ticket prices, you can cut the cost of concessions.
Swipe your plastic: Credit card companies and banks have increased reward perks over the past few years, and some include free theater passes.
Visa Signature offers credit card holders two-for-one movie tickets via Fandango on Fridays. Deutsche Bank Debit Card users can get one free pass for every one ticket purchased through BookMyShow.com. Ask your credit card or bank about reward perks and take advantage of the discount.
Be loyal: AMC and Regal theaters' rewards programs offer points toward free tickets, discounts and concessions upgrades. Check with your local theater to see if they provide similar deals.
Daily deal it: Sites like Groupon and LivingSocial feature movie savings of up to 50 percent, and likely will offer similar promotions this summer.
The vouchers typically expire within a couple of months, so take note of the date and use them up before then.
Free is good: Watch for summer outdoor movie nights. Usually all you need to bring is a blanket or low lawn chair for a fun family night. Some even provide the popcorn.
Herald staff contributed to this report.
See where you can see outdoor movies for free this summer.