Is there a way to tell when a movie is leaving theaters?

I’d like to be able to go see a few of the big blockbuster movies this summer, but I absolutely cannot stand the crowds. Ideally, I’d like to be able to catch a movie towards the end of its run, when the crowds are smaller. Is there any way to tell when a movie is about to leave the main theaters? Even a few days’ notice would be fine, I could go on a Wednesday or Thursday just before new flicks come out on Friday. Thanks!

Have you tried calling your local theaters?

Does your cinema not do listings for the week ahead? Check on the Wednesday or whatever and, if it’s not playing that weekend, that will be your last chance to see it.

Exactly. Go on the Fandango or Moviephone websites early in the week (my theater sometimes posts the showtimes for the upcoming week as early as the Monday before) and just check the times for the next weekend.

I just tried the website for the theater near me, and as of today, their listings only go through Tuesday. But Fandango does have listings for next weekend for Iron Man 3 (which is the kind of movie I’d be interested in), so that might work out. Thanks for the suggestion.

Even for the biggest of blockbusters you shouldn’t find big crowds on the second Wednesday, regardless of how long it actually stays in theaters.

Biggest grosser of 2012 was The Avengers.

The second Wednesday after it opened it earned $6.3 million on 4,350 screens or $1,500/screen. Assume all of these people went to the two usual evening showings (around 7 and 9:30) and and average ticket price of $7 (low) and that is still only about 105 people in a theater that can probably seat at least three times that (since the blockbuster will get the big rooms).

And that will be more crowded than reality since people will have gone to other shows during the day. Go to an afternoon matinee (or the 5-ish showing) on the second Wednesday and even for The Avengers there probably won’t be three dozen people in the room.

I remember going to one of the Harry Potter movies the Tuesday after it opened for a matinee and only having about 5 people in theater.

To achieve your goal of avoiding crowds, if it’s a blockbuster and you can be sure it’s going to play for at least 2-3 weeks, we avoid the first and probably 2nd weekend, and then go to the first show on Sunday morning. It’s not empty, but it’s not full either. Also, it’s early enough that it doesn’t kill the day, there’s still plenty of time left to do other stuff.

Usually the daytime matinees for movies that start on Wednesdays aren’t too full, regardless of the popularity of the movie.

For example, when “The Phantom Menace” came out on a Wednesday in 1999, I saw the 2 o’clock pm showing that following Friday, and my brother and I were two of about 15 people in the theater for that showing. People were lining up for the evening shows when we got out though.

Did you do the humane thing and warn them not to waste their money?

Matinees usually aren’t very busy unless it’s a HUGE blockbuster.

If you look at the movie listings and they go from several a day (for instance, 1:50, 4:00, 6:30, and 9:00) to 1 or 2 a day, it’s probably on its way out.