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Cineworld Unlimited Card Review

I love the cinematic experience – Despite my embarrassingly large DVD collection, there is nothing like the escapism of the immersive cinematic experience. Films are created with that experience in mind, not for those sat watching films on their laptops at home. I’ve been a Cineworld Unlimited card holder for over 5 years now, and I would recommend it to anyone. Today I have worked through the many benefits to owning the card that I’ve come across during that time. The experience isn’t perfect, and if you have ever been to any multiplex cinema you’ll know what I mean, but to have access to as many films as I like as often as I like is a total no brainer. If you like your movies the way they are meant to be watched, it’s the way to go.

The Money – Is it Worth It?

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For £17.40 a month you have “unlimited” access to movies – as many as you like, as many times as you like. With ticket prices as expensive as they are, to make that worthwhile per month you would only have to go twice. I wouldn’t expect everyone to be able to catch every single film that comes out, but I’ve always said that there are always at least two films a month you would want to see. If you manage to catch them then you’re already quids in. Bear in mind that some months are better than others for the quality of films coming out, so even poor months should be evened out later on. By the end of Oscar and Blockbuster season you’ll have a favourite screen, seat, and know all of the staff on first name terms. After some rough calculations I think I've saved about £70 having the card compared to what I would have paid full price this year. Not bad.

Catch Those Near Misses!

There are plenty of films you wouldn’t necessarily go out of your way to buy a ticket to go and see – tickets are expensive on their own, and were you to add the drinks and popcorn extras, you’re suddenly putting a lot of pressure on the film you have picked to be great. I’m as much a sucker as the next person for being put off by poor or average reviews for films, and I’m not even spending £10 a pop. With the card you can go safely in the knowledge that if the film you’re booked to see isn’t the best you have ever seen you haven’t lost all that much. This takes the pressure off a cinema trip and opens up the possibility of catching a ‘lesser’ looking film you definitely wouldn’t have caught otherwise. I would never have paid money for a ticket to The Drop, Green Room, or Goosebumps, and while neither changed my life, that isn’t to say they weren’t pleasant surprises that I’m really glad I caught.

Unlimited Screenings

One of the biggest draws for me is the chance to catch the odd early preview screening of a film ahead of its official release date. We actually have three bunched in to one week ahead of Oscar season next month! We will be lucky enough to catch La La Land, Manchester By the Sea and Ben Affleck’s Live By Night days before they are opened to the rest of the public. Needless to say we have booked our seats well ahead of the days and will be spending more time in the cinema that week than our flat. In the past there was a red carpet laid out in to the screen and the odd freebies handed out, but both seemed to have dried up recently.

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Secret Unlimited Screening

A slight twist on the Unlimited Screenings in that you have no idea what it is you’re walking in to beforehand. Cineworld’s Twitter have offered cryptic tweets leading up to the day, but other than that you’re going in totally blind. This can be hit and miss, and despite some people walking out as soon as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty came on, I actually really enjoyed that and may not have bothered with it otherwise.

Money Off Snacks, Drinks and 3D

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A dangerous great benefit is the 10% off food and drink you get in the Cineworld cinemas with the Unlimited card. After you have been a card holder for a year, as well as receiving a shiny new black card, you also get a whopping 25% off the popcorn, coke and other confectionaries. As well as that, most Cineworld cinemas will have restaurants nearby that will offer a similar saving upon showing your card. That Nandos and Pizza Hut more and more tempting by the minute! The flip side of that, is that I’ve found myself getting suckered in by those discounts and buying snacks or meals beforehand I wouldn’t have bothered with otherwise. We’ve since taken to sneaking in bargain jelly beans instead – what’s the point in making that saving on the ticket if you end up spending it back on a supersize slush puppy?... they are good though.

I’ve never been a big fan of 3D and can count on one hand the films where this has added anything at all and/or not been distracting at all. However, if having things jumping out of the screen is your bag, then there is only a nominal additional fee for card holders in their first year, and then all screening are totally free after that. There is still an extra fee to pay for any IMAX screenings, so while we would save those for special occasions (eg. Star Wars, or when Tom Cruise clings on to the side of a plane as it takes off) it’s something to bear in mind.

Meerkat Movies

Previously Orange Wednesdays, Meerkat Movies offers the chance for those without an Unlimited card to buy two-for-one tickets with a code. What many don’t often realise is that if one of the two going owns an Unlimited card then the other will go free with a Meerkat Movies code. Charlotte often leeched off mine for a few months until she finally caved in to getting a card herself. It’s a great option if one of you doesn’t go all that often, although the limitation of going on a Tuesday or Wednesday only may get a bit tiresome.

Unlimited Recommend a Friend

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If you are thinking of getting an Unlimited card yourself, when you first sign up for it you and a friend could get a month free. If you know someone that has a card already, all they need to do is get their Recommend a Friend code from the website for you to enter online. Then both you get a month free! Don't know anyone with a card? – here’s my code for you to use: RAF-37GR-63DN-64CB-21QT

The Negatives

Films can drop off much sooner than other cinemas. Unless it’s a huge blockbuster or straight from the Marvel conveyor belt, there is a strong chance it won’t hang around long. I’ve been hurt by this before, and had to pay elsewhere to see Bridge of Spies among others. To an extent you can sympathise as they need bums on seats, and if some aren’t cutting it then they need moving – that doesn’t make it any less frustrating if you’re unable to get to a screening early enough though. Then there was when The Hateful Eight wasn’t released at all at Cineworld (as well as Picturehouse and Curzon) cinemas due to the Tarrantino’s decision to have it shown in 70mm only. Although that was a one off, it’s pretty embarrassing not to have had one of the biggest films of the year on their roster.

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It can be irritating when a film with a limited release such as Paterson or Life Animated that only get limited releases don’t even get as far as a Cineworld screen. Having the card certainly means you can be left begrudgingly paying to go to other cinemas the odd time, but it is few and far between. It also means having to drag plebs friends without a card to a Cineworld multiplex if you want to see anything together – although that’s never been much of a problem to anyone coming with us.

The Alternative Option

Other cinemas are finally waking up to the idea of having a similar card system. As with anyone else deciding between Odeon and Cineworld, this came down to location for us. I got the Cineworld card when I used to work round the corner from one, making it easy to walk down any midweek evening. Since the introduction of Odeon’s Limitless card it did cross our minds to switch seeing as there would be one in walking distance from our flat, but that will change early next week when we move out. Location aside, to my eye Odeon appear better at keeping films available for longer than Cineworld, but the food/drink savings and Unlimited Screenings at the latter make it a bit of a toss-up. I am a big fan of the Odeon Flashbacks though, and wish Cineworld would introduce something similar.


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