Once you've decided to go to the movies, there are several annoying steps between you and a comfortable reclining seat, a massive high-definition screen, and a tub of hot-buttered popcorn. First, there's the long ticketing line that inevitably leads to a sold-out sign for that opening-weekend flick. Even if you've managed to make it through that test of wills with those dreaded front-row tickets in hand (hope you brought your neck pillow), you're still faced with the labyrinthine concessions stand line and the exorbitant prices for popcorn, hot pretzels, nachos, hot dogs, and sodas.

Before you resign yourself to watch that box office bomb for the second time with that snuck-in bag of microwave popcorn and can of soda, know that there's another way. No, we're not talking about waiting for ages to download movies when they're finally available online or watching full-length movies on your favorite streaming apps. A slew of Android and iPhone movie apps has emerged to take the grunt work and even expense out of your trip to the movies. With free movie apps for your iPhone or Android phone like Fandango, Atom, AMC Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, and Regal Cinemas, you can get movie showtimes, advance movie tickets, preferred seat selection, exclusive offers, and even your concessions all in one place -- at a discounted price. Download them from the App Store and Play Store today and eventually, you'll get free movie tickets and concessions!

AMC Theatres (iOS, Android)


Download the AMC Theatres' free app for your Android devices or iPhone and iPad and learn everything you need to know about current and upcoming movies you may want to watch. The app also lets you purchase advance tickets and concession-stand favorites from the theatres nearest you, and gives you easy access to your AMC Stubs rewards account.

Using its user-friendly interface, tap any movie to get official video trailers, movie and cast info, and expert film ratings and begin the purchase process, which includes a small convenience fee, for new or upcoming movies. Tap the Food & Drinks tab to tack on the concession stand favorites to your order. Just select your theatre from the list of participating theatres, order your food, and depending on availability, you can enjoy an expedited express pickup at the concession stand or even schedule a delivery to your theatre seat. Now that's five-star service.

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Join in the free app or link your free AMC Stubs Insider account to the app, and get access to your virtual membership card, which you can then add to your mobile wallet. You'll enjoy benefits like free refills on large popcorns, $5 tickets on Tuesdays, and free popcorn on your birthday. Select a favorite theatre to access VIP lines. You can also upgrade to the Premiere package for $15 and get even more perks, such as five times as many points per $1 spent, waived online ticketing fees, concession size upgrades, and more. AMC Theatres has also introduced an AMC Stubs A-List package, which expands upon the Premiere bundle to also include three free movies every week in Dolby Cinema, IMAX, RealD 3D, or digital. AMC Stubs A-List costs $19.95 a month and requires a three-month commitment.

You can also track your AMC Stubs points and rewards in the app. The downside with the app, however, is that you're limited to AMC Theatres.

Regal Cinemas (iOS, Android)

Download the Regal Cinemas' free app for your mobile device to find movie showtimes and purchasing options (a small service fee is always included) for current and upcoming films running at Regal Cinemas, Edwards Theatres, and United Artists Theatres near you. Not sure what to watch? The mobile app also includes movie trailers, movie plotlines, cast info, running times, and ratings. Join or log in to the Regal Cinemas rewards program, Regal Crown Club in the app, and you'll be able to store a virtual copy of your card for quick use, earn credits on purchases that can be used when making future purchases, check your balance, and get concession stand discounts. Tap the Specials button on the bottom rail and open up a Promotions page to find coupons for concessions, as well as opportunities to earn bonus credits on purchases (with a Regal Crown Club account).

Cinemark Theatres (iOS, Android)

The Cinemark Theatres' free app for Android and iOS helps you search for your nearest Cinemark theatre, find movie info and showtimes, buy movie tickets easily with a nominal ticket fee, and more. Join Cinemark Theatres' rewards program Cinemark Connections in the app. Then scan your virtual card at the box office and-or concession stand to earn points, which you can later redeem for digital downloads, concessions discounts, and more.

You can earn even more points by using the Cinemark for iPhone or Android app's CineMode feature. To encourage patrons to stay off their phones and actually watch movies, Cinemark encourages you to start CineMode when your movie begins. Your phone's screen will dim automatically and you'll be asked to put your phone on vibrate. As long as you stay in CineMode and off your phone for the entirety of the film, you'll be rewarded with bonus points. But to really get rewarded, you'll need to join the Cinemark Movie Club in the app, and for $8.99/month, you'll receive one 2D ticket per month, 20 percent off concessions, reduced add-on tickets, and waived online fees.

Fandango (iOS, Android)


Unlike competing apps AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas, and Cinemark Theatres, which only include listings for their own respective cinema houses, the free Fandango iPhone and Android movie apps provide info and tickets for most of the major movie theatre chains, so you can watch what you want wherever you want.

If you can't decide on a movie to watch, tap any one and then the Cast + Info section to see a synopsis, photos, and cast list. Or tap Videos for video trailers to help you figure out one to watch. You'll also get a Rotten Tomatoes score and a Fans star rating. You can also narrow your selection by genre, MPAA rating, and format, such as IMAX & 3D. Tap any movie to begin the quick ticket purchasing process. You'll notice a small convenience fee per mobile ticket that you'll take to a ticket taker to scan, but it's offset by the points you can earn via the My VIP+ Points account.

Sign up for a free My VIP+ Points account in the app, and you'll receive 150 VIP+ points for every ticket purchased. After four tickets, you'll get a $6 reward, which lets you stream a movie on FandangoNOW or get deals on tickets or gear via the FanShop. You'll even get free screening offers.

Link your rewards accounts from partners like AMC Stubs and Regal Crown Club, and earn partner points at the same time. Fandango VIPs can also exchange or return tickets in the app -- up to two hours before a movie starts.

Atom (iOS, Android)

Like Fandango, the free Atom mobile movie-ticketing app displays the latest movie showtimes and ticketing info for multiple theatres -- 16 popular chains, including AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas, and ArcLight Cinemas, to be exact. Tap any one for movie info, critics reviews (powered by our sister site Metacritic), audience ratings, and movie showtimes so you can figure out which one to watch right now. Or tap the Theaters button to find the latest movies to watch by theatre. Select Upcoming to see what's coming your way through the end of the year.

SEE: Our 20 favorite techies from TV and movies (TechRepublic)

You can link to AMC Stubs, Regal Crown Club, Showcase Starpass, and Vision Club Rewards from New Vision and ensure you also get partner rewards points for each purchase, which still includes a nominal service fee. After purchasing, your ticket will be available in the free app. Just scan the QR code at the theatre entry for admission.

You can also skip the concessions stand line by buying snacks and drinks in advance: Look for the yellow Order Food and Drink button when checking out or anytime before the show at participating locations to add these to your order. When you get to the theatre, skip the long line and pick up your order at a special Atom Tickets line (at participating theatres).

But if you have a last-minute change of plans and can't watch the movie, no need to worry. Just tap the Cancel Order button to call off your order up to 30 minutes before showtime.

Wrap up

If you're a regular moviegoer and maintain one or more loyalty rewards cards, then these free movie apps are a must as they keep all of your rewards cards and favorite theatre and payment info all in one place. They also alert you when the hottest award-winning movies are coming out so you can purchase advance tickets before they sell out and watch them and sometimes even get your concessions in advance for less. Upgrade to a premium membership and get everything from discounted tickets and concessions to free ones. And never wait in line to watch a movie again.

(Credit: ra2studio, Shutterstock / ra2studio)

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Joshua Rotter is an Editor for Download.com.