The lights dim and the kids finally settle into their seats as the 20 minutes of previews begin to roll. Even before the movie starts, one of them’s throwing popcorn. People are staring. You try to quiet him, hissing between your teeth, but now you’re all irritated. Ugh. If you really want to shell out for a movie on the big screen with your kids, think first. Consider their ages and abilities to sit still. But there’s more than that. Our moving-going tips will make for a better outing!

Timing

  • Pick a time that’s right after naptime.
  • Go when there’s not an expected crowd.
  • Avoid opening nights.
  • More than one kid? Go when you can take a friend or spouse to help corral them and help with potty breaks.
  • Watch for summer deals or discounts on certain days.

Snacks

  • Invest in the yearly popcorn bucket. You can bring it back time and time again during the year for discounted popcorn.
  • Take brown lunch bags to separate the big bucket of popcorn so your kids can have their own.
  • Dare we say it? ... Sneak in candy — everybody does. Get big boxes for less at Walgreens or Kroger.
  • Buy a large drink and share with two straws, but limit liquid intake to avoid potty breaks.
  • Eat lunch/dinner just before the movie so your child’s full and won’t start begging for snacks.

Comfort

  • Consider a small pillow and blanket to keep your child comfortable as theaters are often cold.
  • Nix a middle seat in favor of an aisle seat for easy access.
  • Bring ear plugs or muffs to soften loudness if your child fusses about volume.
  • Go potty before the movie!

Outdoor Movies!

Catch a family flick outdoors at the following locations:
  • City of Franklin’s Parks Department’s free movie showings are June 9 (Sing) and 23 (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) at Pinkerton Park at 8 p.m.
  • Elmington Park in Nashville hosts the 23rd Annual Movies in the Park every Thursday at sundown in June. Get the schedule of free films online.
  • Goodlettsville Parks and Recreation’s free movie showings are June 16 (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) and July 21 (Finding Dory) at Moss-Wright Park at 8 p.m.
  • Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation’s free movie showings are June 5 - July 28 at 8:30 p.m. at five outdoor spots Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri/Sat. It’s the same movie at each location in the same week; visit them online to see what's playing.
  • Mt. Juliet Parks and Recreation’s free movie showings are Fridays, June 2 (The Secret Life of Pets) and 7 (Sing), Aug. 4 (Finding Dory) and Sept. 2 (Storks) at Charlie Daniels Park.
  • Smyrna Parks and Recreation’s movie showings are Fridays June 2 (Sing) and Sept. 1 (Boss Baby) at Rotary Soccer Park. Admission is $1.
  • Nashville Shore’s free Dive In Movies are held at 8 p.m. on Fridays July 7, 14, 21, 28 and Aug. 4. Visit nashvilleshores.com for a complete list of movies.

Friendly Summer Releases

  • Guardians of the galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (May 19)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26)
  • Wonder Woman (June 2)
  • Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (June 2)
  • The Book of Henry (June 16)
  • Cars 3 (June 16)
  • Transformers: The Last Knight (June 23)
  • Despicable Me 3 (June 30)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)

Sensory-Friendly Screenings

Families with autistic children or other special needs can enjoy monthly sensory-friendly screenings. Movies have no previews, the sound’s not as loud and lights are not as dim. Saturdays at these locations: NCG Gallatin Cinema 615-451-9500 ncgmovies.com/gallatin 10 a.m. Regal Opry Mills 615-232-5014 regmovies.com/mywaymatinee 10:30 a.m.

Head to a Drive-In

Enjoy an old-school movie-watching experience with your kids (pajamas & all!) at one of three drive-in movie theaters in the Middle Tennessee area: Stardust Drive-In in Watertown, Moonlite Drive-In in Woodbury and Pink Cadillac Drive-In in Centerville.

Something to Talk About: Nashville’s Indoor Drive-In

A giant indoor replica of a 1960s American drive-in theater, August Moon Drive-In, is slated to open next spring. The 40,000-square-foot, air-supported dome will include a simulated starry sky, and your family can have fun sitting in modified classic cars. There will also be a lounge area for live performances before and after movies. August Moon will be located at the intersection of James Robertson Parkway and I-24, close to Nissan Stadium. It will offer memberships allowing for free entry with access to concessions specials, seating upgrades and other perks. Visit augustmoondrivein.com.

Cinema News & Specials

  • AMC (formerly Carmike), Malco and Regal all offer cheap family flicks in June and July — a great way to beat the heat! Check their websites for details.
  • AMC Classic Bellevue 8 and Madison 10 offer $5 tickets all day every Tuesday for Stubs members.
  • Malco Smyrna offers $5.50 tickets for everyone on Tuesdays before 6 p.m.
  • NCG Gallatin Cinema offers $6 tickets for everyone on Tuesdays before 6 p.m. for most shows and $2 concessions.
  • All Regal cinemas offer reserved seating and rewards members get 25 percent off candy on Mondays and 50 percent off popcorn on Tuesdays.
  • AMC is developing a new nine-screen, 47,000-square-foot movie theater with a full-service cinematic dining concept at Stones River Mall. The new theater will have seat-side food and beverage services and plush, luxury electronic high-back recliners with reserved seating. No opening date is set just yet, so keep an eye out for more info at stonesrivermall.com.
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