SmartMoney Blogs

Pay Dirt
A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

Groupon Wants You To See Lousy Movies

There are only so many hot stone massages, electrolysis treatments and Brazilian bikini waxes a person can have in one lifetime, or during the course of one month at least. In theory, a trip to the movies should hurt marginally less.

However, that all depends on what movie you go see.

On Wednesday, Groupon joined coupon websites Living Social Inc. and KGB Deals by getting into movie coupons, a development that could ultimately influence how we choose movies – and not in a good way.

The daily coupon website is offering cheap tickets to the Matthew McConaughey vehicle The Lincoln Lawyer. Or put another way: if you want a cheap movie ticket today, you must see The Lincoln Lawyer.

If you are a big Matthew McConaughey fan, $6 for a $13 ticket is a no-brainer 54% discount. If you’d rather see Jennifer Aniston in Just Go With It, think carefully. Is Groupon’s offer worth the $6 per ticket and 1 hour and 59 minutes of your time?

Don’t let movie companies pull the coupon over your eyes. Here’s what industry publication Variety has to say:

“Legal thriller The Lincoln Lawyer is a quintessential airport-novel kind of movie, possessing no great qualities or ambitions. As such, it’s easy enough to just soak up star Matthew McConaughey’s good-ol’-boy appeal and overlook the film’s stilted dialogue, bizarre directorial indulgences, excessive running time and boilerplate Law and Order-style narrative.”

To be fair, Groupon told The Wall Street Journal it wants to eventually offer more discounts to more movies, but there is a risk that Hollywood studios will start jostling to boost the box office takings of their own movies and, let’s safely assume, unload their fair share of turkeys too.

The momentum for studios like Lion’s Gate Entertainment Corp., which is behind The Lincoln Lawyer, is a powerful one.

Two weeks ago, Living Social offered two tickets for $9 via Fandango’s ticket service for any movie. It sold 1 million tickets in two days, 780,000 tickets on the first day alone. Think what that could do for one movie’s sales. When Living Social sold tickets for Little Fockers, which is already part of a successful comedy franchise, it sold 10,000 tickets in 12 hours, with 32% of customers buying two tickets and gifting one to a friend.

Living Social spokeswoman Maire Griffin wouldn’t say whether the next movie offer will be an open ticket or restricted to a specific movie. Sounding a little like a film noir femme fatale, she tells Pay Dirt, “We don’t fess up until our deal appears.”

In the meantime, there are several parties that should be happy about Groupon’s romance with Hollywood: McConaughey, who has had his fair share of hits and misses, Lion’s Gate and Groupon, which takes a slice of the tickets sold through its website. Are you?


We welcome thoughtful comments from readers. Please comply with our guidelines. Our blogs do not require the use of your real name.

Comments (5 of 12)

View all Comments »
    • “Or put another way: if you want a cheap movie ticket today, you must see The Lincoln Lawyer.” So why is this any different than deciding to go to a matinee to see movie cheaply. How is this any different than going to Broadway to buy cheap play tickets just hours before the performance? This is airline yield management, trying to maximize their returns and avoid empty seats.

    • Recently there are tons of groupon type website appears, they did offer first time customer a good deal You can find a lot of such deals on These local deals are put together on a map, people can easily find what is there in the neighborhood or travel destination.

    • So to support your ridiculous contention that somehow consumers are too stupid to decide whether they want to see a movie (and save money on it) you pull out a single quote from a single review??

      Weak stuff, man.

    • Yep it’s amazing how the writer of this article didn’t think to check the RT rating of this so called lousy movie.

    • The real question is, are people buying tickets that weren’t going to see it otherwise? I mean, if the only people buying the discounted tickets are the ones that would have paid full price, the studios will lose money on this sort of “promotion”.

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.