AMC Stubs A-List Vs. Regal Unlimited: Which Movie Pass Is A Better Deal?

Before the onset of streaming platforms like Netflix, Max, and Hulu, there was really only one way to see a new theatrical release: going to the movie theater. From the smell of buttery popcorn wafting through the front doors to walking across the sticky floor to securing the perfect seat, movie theaters have always offered a sensory-filled experience that can't be recreated at home. This said, in recent years (and a consequence of the pandemic lockdowns), more people are opting to watch a film from the comfort of their couch via streaming. A 2022 Morning Consult poll, for example, found that 55% of survey respondents preferred this method over heading to a theater because of convenience and affordability.

As streaming continues to grow in popularity and new movies are made available on them mere weeks (or days) after a theatrical run, major theater companies like AMC and Regal are trying to find ways to entice people back, especially when major blockbuster events like "Barbenheimer" (did you know that"Barbie" gave Margot Robbie her biggest payday?) aren't happening. This is where their respective movie pass programs — AMC Stubs A-List and Regal Unlimited — come in. Allowing subscribers to see several movies for about the price of one, and receive special perks along the way, these programs help movie lovers get more bang for their buck. But which one is a better deal?

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The basics (and perks) of each movie pass

The top tier of AMC Stubs A-List costs $24.95 (plus tax) per month, and it allows subscribers to use their membership in all states. There are also slightly cheaper options at $22.95 and $19.95 — both of which are only available in certain states. For new subscribers, they're able to get their first month of membership for only 99 cents.

Perks of AMC Stubs A-List include seeing up to three movies weekly with no blackout dates; free online ticket reservations; free size upgrades on popcorn and fountain drinks, plus free large popcorn refills; large popcorn and fountain drink birthday gift; no upcharge on premium formats like Dolby Cinema, IMAX and 3D; a $5 reward for every $50 spent; priority lanes and concessions; discount Tuesday savings; and never-expiring points.

As for Regal Unlimited, membership costs $23.99 and, as its name suggests, allows subscribers full access to all 428 theaters; no state restrictions. They can also watch as many movies as they want per week (and can even see the same film several times in one day as long as the showtimes are at least 90 minutes apart). For premium formats (like IMAX, etc.), there will be a surcharge upon booking a reservation.

Other Regal Unlimited perks include 10% off all food and non-alcoholic drinks; one free large popcorn and soft drink on birthdays; early access to new movies with Regal Unlimited Screenings; and opportunities to bring a friend for free to select showings.

But which one should you choose?

AMC Stubs A-List and Regal Unlimited tiers have a nearly identical price point, as well as similar cancellation policies. (Speaking of cancellations, here's why you should think twice before closing a credit card) Each loyalty program tier locks subscribers into an initial membership of at least three months (Regal even offers a 12-month plan).

Still, there are major differences in offerings that should be considered when deciding which is a better deal for you. For example, if someone knows they'll want to attend more than three screenings per week, Regal would be the way to go. But if they're comfortable with three or less, and know that they'll want to experience the latest Marvel flick in Dolby Cinema format, then AMC, which doesn't charge for premium showings, may be a better option. Plus, getting that first month with AMC for only 99 cents can't be ignored.

Further, those thinking about getting a membership should also do some research on which theater company is more prominent in their area. There's a higher chance that there's an AMC nearby given its 600-plus theaters versus Regal's 400-plus, but some towns in the U.S. are limited to the latter.

Ultimately, both AMC Stubs A-List and Regal Unlimited offer some great perks for subscribers. Regarding which is the better deal, it all comes down to personal preference and availability. But one thing is certain: For Netflix's premium monthly fee of $22.99, subscribers certainly aren't getting Dolby surround sound or free birthday snacks.