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Cineplex Movie Formats Explained: What Are Premium Tickets and How You Can Save Money

Cineplex Movie Formats Explained: What Are Premium Tickets and How You Can Save Money

By Simon Hung

It’s a lot trickier to see a movie nowadays. Once upon a time, you only needed to pay for general admission, but these days there are premium formats like 3D, AVX, VIP and more options with capitalized abbreviations, each more expensive than the last -- but what do they even mean?

Cineplex movie tickets can cost as much as $25.00, making date nights and family movies an expensive outing. We’re here to help and have listed the common movie formats found in Cineplex cinemas to give you an idea of what each one has to offer, along with some money-saving tips at the end.

Note that ticket prices reflect adult pricing at various Cineplex theatres in Downtown Toronto -- prices vary by region and tickets at your local theatre may differ.

Regular

Pros
Cons
2D Price, 3D Price
SCENE Price
CheapestSeats not reserved, little leg room, more ads, can get crowded$13.50, $16.501000 points

The cheapest and most ubiquitous ticket option, seats to regular movies are general admission and available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Regular theatres usually have smaller screens, seats with little leg room and can get crowded quickly during popular movies. Regular showings also play a longer pre-show, which means more ads will play before the movie starts.

Prime Seats

Pros
Cons
2D Price, 3D Price
SCENE Price
Reserved seats, some Prime Seats are largerSame disadvantages as regular theatres, but more expensive$15.50, $18.501500 points

Some Cineplex cinemas have tickets designated as Prime Seats, which are usually a block of 20-30 desirable seats in the centre of the seating area. Tickets for these seats are sold in conjunction with regular admission, but Prime Seats cost more than regular tickets with the added benefit of being able to reserve your seats.

UltraAVX

Pros
Cons
2D Price, 3D Price
SCENE Price
Reserved seats, larger screen, roomier seatsScreen and audio improvements are minimal$16.50, $18.501500 points

UltraAVX theatres promise a larger screen and better seats.

UltraAVX is the most common premium format, featuring reserved seating, a larger screen and more comfortable seats with extended leg room. UltraAVX and other premium formats usually play big-ticket movies, as they'll draw a larger audience and as a result, more revenue for Cineplex. While the perks are nice, UltraAVX is where prices start to creep into the territory where you have to think twice before buying.

D-BOX

Pros
Cons
2D Price, 3D Price
SCENE Price
Same advantages as regular or UltraAVX theatre, motion seatsSame visual experience as regular or UltraAVX theatre but more expensive, motion seats offer little value$22.50, $24.501500 points

D-BOX seats are a block of 20-30 specialized seats in regular or UltraAVX theatres that offer the same pros and cons as the theatre with which they share, but D-BOX seats vibrate and move along with the events on-screen, adding an extra dimension to the movie. It equates to sitting in a rocking massage chair and for most people, the extra cost isn't worth it.

IMAX

Pros
Cons
Price
SCENE Price
Reserved seats, largest screen, improved audio, some movies have exclusive IMAX scenesPrice, not all theatres have traditional IMAX, no TimePlay in some theatres$20.501500 points

Described by many as the best visual experience, IMAX features a massive screen with improved audio, but only if you're in a genuine IMAX theatre. There are only a few cinemas in Canada that have a traditional 80-foot IMAX screen, while most have much smaller screens that are only branded as IMAX and jokingly called Lie-MAX by movie purists -- click here to view a list of IMAX venues in Canada (venues marked as Dual Projection or IMAX with Laser use traditional IMAX screens). Cinemas with the misfortune of sporting a small IMAX screen offer a similar experience to UltraAVX.

VIP

Pros
Cons
Price
SCENE Price
Reserved leather seats, smaller audience, lounge, in-seat dining service, 19+Price, no major audio/video improvements, no TimePlay in some theatres$19.992000 points

The main advantages of VIP theatres are the smaller audiences and in-seat dining.

Those looking for a more intimate movie experience will want to try VIP, as these tickets are only available to those aged 19 and up. VIP theatres only seat about 30 people and feature an in-seat dining service (including alcohol), priced à la carte. The visual quality is the same as regular theatres, but VIP tickets are worth it for those who want to enjoy the movie experience while avoiding the hectic crowds in regular theatres.

4DX

Pros
Cons
Price
SCENE Price
Reserved seats, motion seats and environment effects are neatMost expensive, motion seats and environment effects may be annoying$24.992000 points

In addition to moving seats, 4DX theatres spray water in your face.

The crème de la crème of premium tickets, there’s currently only one cinema in Canada with a 4DX theatre (Cineplex Yonge/Dundas in Toronto). 4DX theatres feature motion seats, but with a new trick -- environment effects. These specialized theatres include jets that spray mist, wind and scents to enhance your movie experience. It’s an expensive experience and the "spray water in your face" marketing tactic is an interesting one, but you may see more of these spring up if the format is successful.

Tips to Save Money

  • Cineplex vouchers -- Cineplex vouchers can usually be purchased at a discounted rate through your employer or programs like CAA. RFD forums legend Hellfire has also organized group buys for Cineplex vouchers regularly over the past nine (!) years
  • Costco -- Costco regularly sells Cineplex movie ticket packages that cost less than paying full-price in-theatres. Pricing varies by province and packages are available both online and in Costco warehouses
  • Get a SCENE card -- SCENE is Cineplex's loyalty program where you earn points by watching movies and can redeem them for free movies. SCENE members also get 10% off concession snacks
  • Grocery vouchers -- a few times a year, you'll find Cineplex vouchers on packages of Coca-Cola or General Mills products that offer free or buy one get one free admission. These products will often cost far less than a ticket at the box office
  • Other cinemas -- although Cineplex holds an 80% market share in Canada, Landmark Cinemas and Rainbow Cinemas also operate in Canada and you'll often find cheaper tickets for the same movies
  • TimePlay -- TimePlay is an interactive trivia game played before most movies. Download the app on your phone and play with the audience to get free SCENE points, concessions and contest offers
  • Tuesday -- Cineplex offers discounted ticket prices for all shows every Tuesday and SCENE members also get an additional 10% off the Tuesday price
  • VIP "Hump Date" Wednesdays -- questionable marketing name aside, those who enjoy VIP theatres should go on Wednesday, as you can get two tickets and dinner for $50.00 -- look for the "Hump Date" pricing when buying your tickets online

What do you think of Cineplex's multitude of formats? Good choices or gimmicky cash grab? Let us know which format you enjoy the most and any tricks you use to save money when going out to the movies!

10 Comments

    • I guess you beat me to it, but D-Box doesn't always have the "Same advantages as UltraAVX". Some D-Box seats are located in regular auditoriums, not UltraAVX, and thus don't provide the same value as D-Box UltraAVX. In Ottawa, Lansdowne combines both technologies, but Scotiabank Theatre and StarCité Gatineau do not.
    • Report Post
    • DealCube wrote:
      Jan 11th, 2017 7:17 pm
      I guess you beat me to it, but D-Box doesn't always have the "Same advantages as UltraAVX". Some D-Box seats are located in regular auditoriums, not UltraAVX, and thus don't provide the same value as D-Box UltraAVX. In Ottawa, Lansdowne combines both technologies, but Scotiabank Theatre and StarCité Gatineau do not.
      Huh, I didn't know this. I've only tried D-BOX once (it was terrible and I hated it with every fibre of my being) and most of the ones in Toronto are lumped in with AVX theatres. I'll update the section with your info - thanks.
    • Report Post
    • There's also the Barco Escape. Currently it's at 3 theatres across Canada; including Scotiabank in TO. Sounds interesting as it's 3 screens - so an additional screen on each side - but they end up just blowing the image up to fill the screen so it's not impressive. The 2 additional projectors are also in the theatre so you can hear their exhaust during the movie. Star Trek Beyond had ~20 min of this footage in the 2 hour movie.

      There's also different types of Imax. Back in the day it was an actual celluloid film that was breathtaking. They're starting to roll out the laser Imax, which is a step up from the previous digital projectors. The reason to prefer Imax however is that Imax at least monitors their screen for quality assurance: so you will actually see a good image and hear great sound.

      I've seen way too movies shown at Cineplex that need to have their projector bulb replaced (it's like watching a movie with sunglasses on). Their presentation is absolutely atrocious.
    • Report Post
    • Drawback to VIP seating is no TimePlay if you're a dork like me that goes to Cineplex 75% for the movie, 25% for TimePlay (maybe even 70/30)
    • Report Post
    • I'm not sure about other VIP cinemas but the one on the Queensway has Timeplay.
    • Report Post
    • Jesus Christ.

      for a 4dx...
      24.99 x 2 = 49.98
      popcorn combo = ~20?

      looking at 70 bucks for a date just to go to a movie!
    • Report Post
    • ill choose to stay home kodi ftw .. will have a fan ready and a super soaker ready for effects.
    • Report Post
    • cloudlocke wrote:
      Jan 17th, 2017 9:58 pm
      Drawback to VIP seating is no TimePlay if you're a dork like me that goes to Cineplex 75% for the movie, 25% for TimePlay (maybe even 70/30)
      Yeah, IMAX theatres cut out TimePlay too. I also hate how they nerfed it so now it's like one trivia question followed by a long interactive ad. Anyhoo, I added some TimePlay details to the article - thanks for the pointer
    • Report Post
    • matt2_m416 wrote:
      Jan 12th, 2017 11:04 am
      There's also the Barco Escape. Currently it's at 3 theatres across Canada; including Scotiabank in TO. Sounds interesting as it's 3 screens - so an additional screen on each side - but they end up just blowing the image up to fill the screen so it's not impressive. The 2 additional projectors are also in the theatre so you can hear their exhaust during the movie. Star Trek Beyond had ~20 min of this footage in the 2 hour movie.

      There's also different types of Imax. Back in the day it was an actual celluloid film that was breathtaking. They're starting to roll out the laser Imax, which is a step up from the previous digital projectors. The reason to prefer Imax however is that Imax at least monitors their screen for quality assurance: so you will actually see a good image and hear great sound.

      I've seen way too movies shown at Cineplex that need to have their projector bulb replaced (it's like watching a movie with sunglasses on). Their presentation is absolutely atrocious.
      Should be noted, it the GTA (maybe even the whole country) the only theater with the newer dual 4K Imax laser projectors (aka Imax Laser ) + enhanced audio is the flagship Imax @ Scotiabank Theatre. You'll know because it has smaller but better 3d glasses with a reflective coating on the outside. More theatres will eventually upgrade to the newer setup but it is costly. I've seen 3 movies there and the quality as astounding. better than AVX and 4DX imho.
    • Report Post
    • I take advantage of the gift card sales at certain times of the year that include bonus coupons. I have to pay for my movie anyway, so I just use the giftcard to pay and get the advantage of coupons including $6.99 Wednesday, free upgrade, free popcorn and others.
    • Report Post