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For The Price Of A Movie


How much do we pay for entertainment? How much should we pay? Should we compare those things to movie ticket prices? Find out more here!

I had a lot more time off this past year than normal so I began looking for ways to fill that time. Travel, revisiting old projects, eating boxes of cereal with increasingly lower sugar content until you reach the too-disgusting point — all good uses of spare time. But I started looking for more sustainable long-term entertainment options. I started playing board games and video games and doing puzzles.

Then I wondered which were expensive and which were cheap. I used the most common pay-for-entertainment-outside-the-home metric: going to a movie.

If you go to a movie, it’ll cost ya about $12 for about 2 hours. So, $6 per hour of entertainment. (Note for the pedants: I'm averaging in cheap movie ticket days, instead of assuming you always go to cheap or full-price showings.)

If a person wants an average of one hour of (paid) entertainment per day on weekdays, and 2 hours of (paid) entertainment per day on weekends, that’s 9 hours per week. Let’s round up to 10 for easy math, and round up even more to 12 to account for those days when you binge or game for the whole damn day.

At 12 hours per week, that’s $72/week for entertainment at movie prices. Or roughly $3,800 per year.

That doesn’t seem too bad! If you work a decent job and aren’t supporting kids, less than $4,000 on entertainment per year is not completely unreasonable. If you have kids, or an abnormal amount of free time, I don’t know what this math would look like because you have to entertain them and you have less time to entertain yourself so all my numbers go out the window.

Costs of Things

If you’re okay with that budget, here’s how long you should get out of stuff:

- A $70 video game should net you at least 12 hours.

- A $20 board game should entertain you for at least 3 hours.

- A $1 phone game should entertain you for 20 minutes, or 1-4 💩s depending on your diet.

- A Netflix subscription should entertain you for 1.5 hours, or one movie per month.

- A Spotify subscription should be playing for 3 hours per month, (because you’re always doing something else while listening to music so it only gets half credit).

- A $400 iPad should be used for 67 hours of YouTube.

Obviously the more time you spend on these things the better value they are. For example, you can easily spend 80 hours playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, which at $6/hr, totally pays for the game and the Nintendo Switch.

Some good paid entertainment values:

- A 1500 piece puzzle took me something like 30 or 40 hours for less than $30, though calling that ‘entertainment’ is using the term loosely.

- An iTunes movie rental is $6 and you can split it between multiple people.

- Defense Grid 2 was $20 and I played it for months and months.

You get the idea. Which paid entertainment pieces have given you the best value? The worst? Leave your choices in the comments ... of some other blog because I don't have comments enabled here.

(Apparently this is becoming a pricing blog, after The Price of a Coffee and Occasional Usage Software Licenses. But so be it! I think a lot about pricing.)