I'm often asked how I get to see so many free advanced screenings of movies. In a way, it's a hobby. It helps that my parents are retired, love free things, and are willing to go to the cineplex early enough to save a prime spot in the waiting line.
And we're not the only ones. We see the same people every week, and would mingle if we were friendly people. (Alas, we aren't.) I imagine the situation is similar in other major cities, so I've prepared this general guide for you, whether you are based in Las Vegas or elsewhere.
1. Local media
The most common way to get an advanced screening pass is from local radio stations. Win if you're the 29th caller, or whatever. Sometimes they'll have a stack of passes to give out when their wacky afternoon DJ decides to take the giant van out to the popular hot dog and tattoo parlor. Also look for their booth at some expo or festival.
Here in Las Vegas, I know that radio stations co-sponsor the majority of advanced screenings, but I don't actually get passes by listening to win or following the prize van. I look for online contests instead. Jack FM, KLUC 98.5 and X-107.5 fit the bill, and I've won a few times.
The radio industry has consolidated itself into a handful of corporate owners. This may be bad for competition, but it does make searching for local radio stations easier. Try Clear Channel and CBS Radio. Most stations owned by these companies have contest pages, some of which are valuable screening resources. Then use Radio Locator (or any search engine) to find other destinations on the dial. Look for free listener clubs that offer exclusive contests, and join.
A note of warning: Clear Channel will have national contests that appear for all their radio stations. Many stations will show the same national stuff over and over, so try to distinguish and focus on the stations that keep fresh local offers. Also, in general, stations that follow a public radio or religious format don't have contests. In other words, a radio station can have a Donations page or a Contests page, but not both. That's just the way it works.
Also try your local newspapers, of the daily or weekly variety. Here, the Las Vegas Review-Journal will print notices of advanced screening contests, but you have to register online. So you can skip the subscription and check the website periodically.
Consult the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies to see if your city has a weekly paper that might offer movie screenings. (These are the so-called hip publications that appear in colorful boxes along city sidewalks.) Here there are two such papers. Every Thursday I scan the newest Las Vegas Weekly for movie screening announcements and head over to the corporate office to pick up passes. In the past, CityLife (which also arrives on Thursday) directed me to their First Friday booth or some local biz for passes, but recently they've gone online, which is a big timesaver.
If you live in a college town, also consider searching for the print or electronic version of their campus paper. UNLV has the Rebel Yell, but without a theater on or near the campus, it's kind of pointless to seek out. Maybe you'll have better luck where you are.
There are cities whose local TV stations have broadcast or online contests, but so far Las Vegas is not one of them. Use your search engine to compile a list of websites for your local TV stations, and check for promotions, events, or contests. A simple search for "[name of city] TV" will do. Look for the local affiliates of the networks -- ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, the CW, and MyNetwork TV -- but don't forget about the independently owned stations in your viewing area.
Another possibility is to register as a member of a local film festival. CineVegas is more concerned about bringing indie films into the marketplace -- a noble goal, but not much help here. When I lived in St. Louis, though, I joined what's now called Cinema St. Louis, and I would get unsolicited passes in the mail a few times a month. (That website doesn't list any new screenings, but maybe they still have some offline value.)
2. Regional Internet
Taking some of my own advice from above, I've compiled a city-by-city list of radio, print, TV, and other resources that I've found so far. It's now up to 70 cities in the U.S. and Canada.
Over time, I try to phase out sites that seem to have stopped offering sneak previews, and retain the ones that let you enter online to win, offer printable tickets, or tell you where to pick up passes. My goal here is compile every screening provider that can be found online.
Las Vegas (in addition to above sources):
Movie Insider lets me (sometimes) print out passes or (more often) pick them up from a local business. Vegas Film Critic offers one movie at a time, and mails me passes if I win. Volition does about 10 multi-city offers a year. It also services the Southwest (Phoenix, Tucson, and Albuquerque), Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh and Philadelphia), and upstate New York (Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse).
I have not had much success searching the local providers. So seek out Volition (described in Las Vegas, above). Then try TV's The CW, CBS 6, ABC 10, NBC 13, and FOX 23, and radio stations The River, WTRY, Channel 103-1, PYX, and Kiss FM. Also join the Sony Pictures Network.
Aside from Volition (see Las Vegas, above), I have found advance screenings from FOX 2 and radio's Big I-107.9 and The Peak. Also try KRST, 94 Rock, ABC 7, My50, and The CW.
The first place to go is Shakefire, where you register to win. As I understand it, they reward those who participate in their forums most frequently. Screenings are usually also available in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Nashville, and sometimes Birmingham, Memphis, and Knoxville.
The weekly paper Creative Loafing updates its movie offers every Tuesday; sometimes they make you enter online to win tickets, and sometimes they tell you where and when to get passes from a local business. Another consistent provider is The CW. On occasion, CHUD will offer sneak previews; when that happens, you'll probably have to e-mail some local guy to win passes, and then get the passes through the mail or when you meet him at the theater.
Then go to television's ABC 2, CBS 46, MyFOX, and radio's The River, B98.5, Star 94, 790 The Zone, Q100, Kiss FM, The Beat, WSB 750, and V-103. Sign up with the Film Club for Landmark Theatres; members may receive e-mail invitations to screenings. Also try registering at The Cinema Source.
The Austin Chronicle puts up new screening contests every Friday, but act quickly, because they usually expire by the following Wednesday. Salsa TV lists upcoming screenings, but won't tell you how or where to get passes until a day or two before the event. Similarly, keep an eye on Soulciti, which tells you where to pick up tickets a few days before the screening. Then try radio stations Jammin' 105.9, Kiss FM, and KVET, plus TV's NBC 36 and CBS 42. On occasion, the Alamo Drafthouse might publicize a free pre-screening.
The daily Baltimore Sun has a contest page with about 5-6 movies, and it gets updated once or twice a month. The newspaper also sponsors screenings from Metromix, whose Free Stuff section in the bottom right corner will change once a week. Offers from the weekly City Paper pop up every Wednesday, but ONLY on Wednesday; sign up that day or forever hold your peace. The Jewish Times keeps the same registration page, but changes the movie every Thursday or Friday. Online contests are available at radio's Free FM, Lite FM, Jack FM and Mix 106.5, and on sites for TV's ABC 2, NBC 11, CBS 13, FOX 45, and The CW.
Besides Shakefire (see Atlanta above), I don't find a lot of offers. There are contest pages at al.com (usually golf getaways) and Black & White (concert tix, maybe once a month). Find area TV contests at MyFOX 6, NBC 13, and CBS 42, and radio offers at WZZK, The Bull, 95.7 Jamz, The Eagle, Magic 96.5, The Q, and Kiss FM.
Start with Edge Boston. There's a great contest page with frequent and consistent movie offers. Understand that the site addresses gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender culture, so it's important to keep an open mind. After all, a contest is a contest, and anyone can enter. Besides, Edge is just one of several sponsors of a single screening -- they get some passes, and maybe a radio station gets others. So if you win passes, you'll be in a diverse crowd; it's not like they check your sexuality at the door.
There's a California-based site, Film Metro, that has gone national and includes Boston offers. Kiss 108 has a link to a Movie Club amid its contests. Also visit the Boston Herald and Mass Live. Check TV's CBS 4, ABC 5, and MyFOX 25. On the radio, try Talk 680, News Radio 1030, 1510 The Zone, Mike FM, 92.9 WBOS, Jam'n 94.5, Classical 99.5, FNX Radio, Oldies 103, and 105.7 WROR. The city has a section in Free Movie Screenings, but it's not very active. Register at Local 104 and The Cinema Source.
Aside from Volition (see Las Vegas above), screenings are offered at Buffalo.com. Also try News 4, 97 Rock, and WYJE. Register at Jack FM and the Sony Pictures Network.
Welcome, Canadians. I know of three national sites: Dose.ca, which has a multi-city offer about once a month; Tribute.ca, which has offered at least 2 movies every month; and Showbiz Monkeys (formerly known as "Canada Movies" or "Movie Contests") which operates weekly or better. More locally, stare into the Calgary Sun. Your best bets on the radio are CJAY 92 and the curiously named California 103. There's a point system in play at Country 105 and Q107.
Along with Shakefire (see Atlanta above), go to Creative Loafing every Tuesday and register to win passes for the movie offered. You'll want to check K104.7 and Charlotte Vibe. Also try The CW, CBS 3, ABC 9, Power 98, WSOC, and V101.9. Maybe register at Kiss FM.
There's now an Edge Chicago (see Boston above). Also take a Time Out; when they have screenings, you enter by submitting your e-mail address, and they'll contact you if you win passes. Film Metro sometimes ventures into Chicago. Radio stations Kiss FM and The Loop are often helpful, while 93 XRT and Love FM have passes on occasion. Also check out MyFOX, CBS 2, NBC 5, and WGN. Radio's News/Talk 720, V103, and Q101 each have an online contest page. The Chicago Reader does not, but check its masthead for the occasional movie offer. And sign up to learn what The Cinema Source, Hollywood Chicago, B96, WLS 890, and The Mix offer.
CityBeat has "promotions" and Cincinnati.com goes with "giveaways." FOX 19 calls 'em "freebies." But NBC 5, ABC 9, Channel 38, and radio's WEBN, 700 WLW and Kiss 107 stick with "contests." You may also find offers when you register at Movie Jungle.
Search Cleveland.com, the Free Times, and Cleveland Scene. On the radio, visit Newsradio 1100, Q104, 93.1 WZAK, Kiss FM, 98.5 WNCX, Soft 102.1, Mix 106.5, and The Wave. Also check TV stations NBC 3, ABC 5, MyFOX 8, CBS 19, and The CW. Finally, sign up at Z107.9.
Buckeye Nation enjoys film screenings courtesy of Columbus Alive, CBS 10, The CW, ThisWeek News, Around RR, and the Dispatch, plus radio stations WNCI, Power 107, The Brew, WCOL, Newsradio 610, The Hawk, Mix 97.1, Talk 1230, Sunny 95, and Lite FM. Then there's Movie Jungle, which includes Columbus among its cities served.
Dallas / Ft. Worth:
First visit Edge Dallas (see Boston, above). When Pop Syndicate has a screening, it will tell you where to pick up passes. Similarly, you can find promotions from Luv2ViewMovies. Then check radio's KRLD, Lite FM, Kiss FM, and The Wolf; TV's The CW33, NBC5i, and CBS 11, and the alternative weekly Dallas Observer. Finally, sign up for the Movin' 107.5 club.
Visit Starland, Blackflix, Westword, CBS 4 and ABC 7. Then try the radio: KS107.5, AM 630, The Party, Channel 93.3, KBCO, Smooth Jazz 104.3, KYGO, The Fox, AM 760, KBPI, Newsradio 850, and The Fan.
The Metro Times renews its buzz page on Wednesdays. Also check FOX 2, ABC 7, MyTV 20, The CW 50, CBS 62, Marketplace Detroit, Exclusive Magazine, Click on Detroit, AM 950, and Channel 95.5. The west coast's Film Metro travels to Motor City at times.
Dose.ca, Tribute.ca, and Showbiz Monkeys are Canada-wide providers (see Calgary above). Check Canada.com frequently; if there's a current contest for movie passes, it's usually gone within a few days. And check the Edmonton Sun and Cool 880.
Ft. Lauderdale / Palm Beach:
Navigate to Edge Ft. Lauderdale (see Boston above) and the New Times of Broward-Palm Beach. Also consult Hot 105 and the Palm Beach Post.
Some multi-city screenings from Dose.ca, Tribute.ca, and Showbiz Monkeys (see Calgary above) remember the Nova Scotians. More locally, try the weekly alternative The Coast by clicking on "Contests" in the left column.
This Ontario city features offers from national sites Dose.ca and Tribute.ca (see Calgary above). So far I have not found any local providers.
Hartford / New Haven:
Screenings in CT usually come directly from studios and PR firms (see below), but check for contests from MyZone, The CW 20, and radio stations Country 92.5, 96.5 TIC, Lite FM, WPLR, News Talk 1080, and ESPN 1410.
Try The Honolulu Advertiser, Channel K5, and radio stations Krater 96, FM 100, Power 104.3, and Hawaiian 105.
Enter contests at Salsa TV, the Houston Press, K-HITS, The Point, KRBE, Legends 97.1, 93Q, and the Houston Chronicle.
B105.7 FM, RadioNow, NUVO and Intake Weekly offer screenings. Look at The CW 4, ABC 6, CBS 8, and My23 as well. Also check Movie Jungle, which can venture into the Hoosier state.
Look for offers at radio's The Beat, Kiss FM, The Eagle, Rock 105, WOKV, and The Point. On the telly, try First Coast News, News 4 Jax, ABC 9, and CBS 47. Sign up for The Big Ape Movie Club, and maybe The F Bomb (a newsletter from Folio Weekly).
KansasCity.com and KC on Demand both hide their contests in the left column. Then browse The Pitch, MyKSMO, and radio's Q104, The Fox, Hot 103, KFKF, The Buzz, Mix 93, and 99.7 KY.
Look at CBS 8, NBC 10, and The CW, plus radio's 94.3X, B97.5, the Sports Animal, WIVK, NewsTalk 100, WIMZ, and Star 102.1. It may be advantageous to sign up for Jack FM.
I live in Las Vegas, so it's the first city listed. Scroll up.
Kentucky.com has a stable of contests. In addition, check radio stations Mix 94.5, The Bull, Magic 105.5, WKQQ, and The Cat. Try TV's CBS 27, ABC 36, and FOX 56. Register at Movie Jungle. Finally, I've been told that ACE Weekly has offers in their print version, but not online. Be sure to pick one up every week and look for free movie screenings.
The stars get the big premieres, but others in the area (including Burbank, Irvine, and Orange County) can attend red carpetless screenings from Campus Circle and Film Metro. Print possibilities include Creative Screenwriting and OC Weekly. On the radio: Free FM, KOST, AM 640, News 980, AM 1150, and K-EARTH. From TV: CBS 2, NBC 4, ABC 7, My13, and KTLA. Register for The Cinema Source and the KROQ, KBIG, and Jack FM communities.
Try the LEO Weekly; TV's FOX 41, The CW, ABC 11, and CBS 32; and radio's SFR, Louie FM, WQMF, Lite FM, and 84 WHAS. Register at Movie Jungle.
Badger types sink their teeth into mostly studio-sponsored premieres. Still, look for promotions from CBS 3, My14, NBC 15, ABC 27, FOX 47, The CW, and the Isthmus.
Sneaks are offered at ABC 24, The Movie Mark, 93X, Snap 94.1, K97, Soul Classics, V101.1, K-LOVE, Rock 103, Q107.5, Newsradio 600, AM 1070, and maybe the Memphis Flyer. Register at Flash 95.3.
First visit Edge Miami, the New Times and the Miami Herald. Then try online contests at 93 Rock, Love 94, Coast FM, Hot 105, Majic 102.7, AM 940, Y100, Lite FM, 99 Jamz, and The Ticket. Maybe CBS 4, NBC 6, Local 10, and The CW. Finally, sign up at The Cinema Source.
On your mark, get set, and go now to Shepherd Express, V100, B93.3, Newsradio 620, My 95.7, The Mighty 92, NBC 4, ABC 12, and That TV Website. Sign up for FM 102/1 and the KLH Workforce.
With every Wednesday comes a new advanced screening in City Pages; the announcement tells you where to pick up the pass. I've noticed movie promotions at Forty 5 TV and TwinCities.com. Also check out the daily Star-Tribune, and radio stations Jack FM, KDWB, Lite FM. Finally, comb through the offers of The Rake, and TV's CBS 4, ABC 5, NBC 11, and The CW.
Many of the Canadian multi-city offers exclude Montreal; must be the language barrier. Still, it's in your best interest to visit Dose.ca and Tribute.ca. More devoted to the city are Cinema Clock and ION Cinema. There's Canada.com, which publishes offers from the daily Montreal Gazette, but sometimes the online entries require some secret word found in a recent issue of that newspaper. Hour.ca has continually added movies to its active list of contests: some in English, some in French. Also look for promotions in Canoe. Or, if you prefer, you can listen to win at Mix 96 and CJAD 800 AM.
Aside from Shakefire, there's The Big 98, ABC 2, CBS 5, My30, The CW 58, and Nashville Scene.
Check NOLA.com, ABC 26, The CW 38, and the radio dial's WNOE and The Rock of New Orleans. Then there are monthly freebies at Gambit Weekly.
New York City:
For non-celebs, there's Going.com, Divalysscious Moms, Time Out, Edge New York, the New York Post, and the Village Voice. Also check radio stations WBAB, K-Rock, WCBS, Jack FM, Fresh 102.7, Lite FM, KTU, Q104.3, 1430 The Team, Power 105.1, WBLI, and Z100. From the TV world there's CBS 2, NBC 4, ABC 7, My9, and The CW 11. Join the Cinema Club at the New York Observer, and sign up at The Cinema Source.
My searches have not been fruitful here. Try NewsOK and the Oklahoma Gazette. Other options: ABC 5, FOX 25, The Buzz, KJ103, Newsradio 1000, KXY, The Twister, and Fox Sports 1340.
Find contests at Superhits 99.9, the Reader, FOX 42, and The CW 15.
Be alert when the Orlando Sentinel offers a screening: they open the contest the Friday morning before and close the contest by 5pm the same day. Review the Free Stuff section of Metromix once a week. Radio station O-Rock regularly offers screenings. At the Orlando Weekly, you can only register for one prize at a time, and movies are sometimes among the choices. Check contests at NBC 2, Local 6, News 9, and The CW 18. Also give NewsTalk 580, Star 94, 102 JAMZ, WMMO, Mix 105.1, K92, and Power 95.3 a go.
Search the nationwide offers from Dose.ca, Tribute.ca, and Showbiz Monkeys (see Calgary above). It might be a capital idea to visit News Talk 580 and Majic 100.
Edge Philadelphia (see Boston, above) is the place to start. You can also enter to win passes online from Philly.com, City Paper (updated every Friday), and Philadelphia Weekly (new on Wednesdays). Every now and then The CW comes through. A few screenings from Volition (see Las Vegas above) have come here. Also be sure to peruse TV's CBS 3, ABC 6, NBC 10, and MyPHL 17, and radio's The Big Talker, 92.5 XTU, WMMR, Wired 96.5, Power 99, B101, Q102, 102.9 MGK, and My106.1. Register at The Cinema Source.
Go to Volition (described under Las Vegas, above). The Edge posts its events over the following week; when movie screenings are offered, you can pick up passes at its studio. Then visit: AZfamily.com; TV's CBS 5, Quick 6, and ABC 15; radio's Sports 620 and Free FM; and the East Valley Tribune and the New Times. Register at Kool Radio.
Then sign up for e-mails from The Reel Truth. This is the ONLY mailing list I have joined outside of Las Vegas. I did this because they send e-mail announcements for screenings (usually for that night or the next) that provide a link to that offer where anyone can sign up. If I didn't receive those e-mails, I wouldn't know the links and be able to share them.
Every Wednesday, the contest page for the Pittsburgh City Paper will list movie passes that you can pick up or enter online to win. A few screenings from Volition (see Las Vegas above) have come here as well. Also try CBS 2, Pittsburgh.com, Y108, The Pittsburgh Channel, Star 100.7, Kiss FM, and The CW.
There's a new source called Access Metropolis, but other than that, good luck. Print sources like Oregon Live and the Willamette Week aren't much help online. But check TV's NBC 8, FOX 12, and PDX 49 on occasion, as well as radio's K103, AM 620, KEX 1190, 94/7fm, KOOL 105.9, Z100, K-HITS, Movin' 107.5, and KINK FM. Finally, there is The Warren Report, which is based in Seattle (see Seattle below) but also posts screenings here.
Edge Providence (see Boston, above) has a giveaway center. Visit MyFOX, ABC 6, NBC 10, CBS 12, and The CW 28. Might be prudent to try B101, 94 HJY, Coast FM, and Talk 920.
There's Shakefire, and contest pages at CBS 5, ABC 11, The CW 22, and FOX 50. Try G105, The River, and the Independent, too. Subscribers to The News & Observer can visit the Zone; meanwhile, Triangle.com winners pick up passes at the newspaper's office. Finally, sign up at MyRDC and the radio listener clubs of 96 Rock, Mix 101.5, and QDR.
The biggest little city in the world offers the occasional pre-screening. Check Reno.com, Alice FM, News Talk 780, and Magic 95. Also sign up at radio's KRZQ and The Bandit.
Try ABC 8 and radio stations K95, The Planet, Mix 103.7, Sports 910, The Beat, Newsradio 1140, Q94, X-102.1, and Lite FM.
Aside from Volition (see Las Vegas above), try ABC 13 and Warm 101.3. Sign up at Kiss FM, Club PXY, and Sony Pictures Network.
The Sacramento Bee has a Movie Ticket Club for regular giveaways. Then try NBC 3, CBS 13, FOX 40, My58, Y92, and the Sac Cultural Hub.
Salt Lake City:
The CW 30 Goodies page is your best bet; you'll learn where and when to pick up passes the week of the event. The SLC Film Center has free screenings for the public, which can include feature-length documentaries, foreign films, and indies in limited release. Radio station 97.1 ZHT gets some regional films in advance. Also go to the City Weekly; TV's MyFox, CBS 2 and ABC 4; and radio's K-Bull, The Arrow, FM 100, The River, AM 570, Oldies 94.1, and The Blaze.
Besides Salsa TV, try contests at the Current and MySA; TV stations NBC 4 and KSAT 12; and radio's Kiss FM, Q101.9, KJ97, The Outlaw, Mix 96.1, and News 1200.
The daily Union-Tribune and weekly Reader have promotions. Check the telly's The CW 5, FOX 6, NBC 7/39, and ABC 10. There's Channel 93.3, US 95.7, Smooth Jazz 98.1, FM 94/9, KYXY, Sophie FM, and the creatively named KLSD and 101 KGB, too. And sign up at KSON and Free FM.
San Francisco/Bay Area:
There's now an Edge San Francisco (see Boston, above). Also valuable is SF Station, that may list up to 8 screenings at any time. Film Metro is based in Los Angeles, I think, but has ventured north on occasion. You may see a movie screening offered by Your TV20 once a month. When The CW has an offer, they usually do separate screenings in San Francisco and San Jose, and tell you to pick up passes at their offices. Also from TV: CBS 5, ABC 7, and NBC 11. In print: the Oakland Press, Bay Guardian, East Bay Express, and SF Weekly. Then maybe try The Wave, Inside Bay Area, or SF Gate. Free monthly screenings of LGBT-themed films are shown at Frameline.
Many radio stations have local contests. Navigate to Live 105, KTOM, The Bone, Wild 94.9, Lite 96.5, La Preciosa, 98.5 KFOX, KMEL, Star FM, KDON 102.5, KKSF 103.7, K-OCEAN, Channel 104.9, and KFOG on the FM dial. Also check AM stations AM 560, Talk 650, News 740, KGO 810, AM 860, KNEW 910, Green 960, and The Sports Leader.
Call for promotions at KSCU. Premieres are listed on the Movin' 99.7 contest page, but you have to listen to win. Alice FM has one of those rewards pages that I can't easily classify. Finally, try signing up at Energy 92.7, and join the Movie Club at Kiss FM.
A note on San Jose, by far the largest U.S. city that doesn't get its own entry in this Guide. I would do it if I knew how, but because I don't live there, I can't tell you which of the above providers sponsor screenings close to San Jose. If I know a screening is in San Jose, I label it on my Specific Offers page as "San Francisco (San Jose)." But usually I don't know.
This liberal city is surprisingly conservative when it comes to online resources for movie passes. Not a Number Cards and Gifts tells you when to pick up tickets. You also might get lucky with The Stranger and Seattle Weekly. Then try the dial: Talk 1090, Jack FM, Kiss FM, and KMPS. Finally, check ABC 4, NBC 5, CBS 7, and The CW 11.
Finally, there is The Warren Report, a local provider of film news and screening events. You can sign up for a free newsletter, or check the site for future events, but I think you have to be a PAID member to attend the events. Since this page is for free screenings that are open to the public, the site is not relevant to me, but I thought I would put the info out there.
In addition to Cinema St. Louis, there's the weekly Riverfront Times, which can include a few sneak previews amongst its many concert offers. Every weekend the St. Louis Movie Review Weekly is updated; for each movie, you enter to win by sending an e-mail. Also look at STL Today, and TV stations MyFOX 2, CBS 4 and NBC 5. On the radio, try KMOX, 92.3 WIL, The Bull, Movin' 101.1, KEZK 102.5, and Z107.7.
Besides Volition (see Las Vegas above), try Syracuse.com, NBC 3, ABC 9, and FOX 68. Join the Sony Pictures Network.
Creative Loafing has Fun and Free Stuff, and is usually updated every Tuesday. ABC Action News lets you know when you can pick up passes in their offices. The CW 44 may offer a movie or two each month. Also check CBS 10, The Point, 97X, WQYK, Magic FM, The Bone, and AM 620. And sign up for e-mail alerts from Tampa Bay Online.
As with all Canadian cities, first go to Dose.ca, Tribute.ca, and Showbiz Monkeys (see Calgary above). NOW Magazine updates its contest page every Thursday or Friday, and movie offers generally expire a week later. CHUM FM averages one screening per month. The Toronto Sun has both online and print contests. Montreal's ION Cinema has extended some offers here. Then try your luck with Toronto Life, Lite 98.1, Flare Magazine, and 24 Hours. Maybe join the AM 820 club.
Visit TV sites ABC 9 and The CW, and radio's Hot 98.3, KRQ, The Mountain, Cool 1450, La Preciosa, Radio Tejano, and NewsTalk 790. Sign up for The Reel Truth.
Go to Tulsa.tv, NBC 2, FOX 23, and My41. On the radio, there's KMOD, Mix 96, The Beat, Kool 106.1, NewsTalk 740, The Buzz, and K95.5.
You can start with national sites like Dose.ca, Tribute.ca, and Showbiz Monkeys (see Calgary above). Movie contests at Straight.com are updated on Thursday or Friday, but can expire as early as Sunday. At radio station The Q, look for Hot Ticket Tuesdays, where a sneak preview is offered for that day of the week. KVOS often has screenings for family movies. ION Cinema is based in Montreal but has brought a few offers here. Then there's The Province, CFOX, Hollywood North Report, QM FM, and 24 Hours. Radio station The Beat has a packed contest page, but its ticket offers are of the listen-to-win variety.
Virginia Beach / Norfolk:
HamptonRoads and The CW 27 have regular screening contests. Also try CBS 3, NBC 10, The Eagle, and Max FM. Sign up for the Daily Press.
Visit YTIC frequently; some screenings are posted a month in advance, but quite often last-minute surprise screenings will pop up. Check print sources like the Washington City Paper, the Express, and the Washington Post. Track contests at radio's WJFK and The Globe. Then tune into TV sites like NBC 4 and The CW. Residents of northern Virginia should visit the Alexandria Times and the Arlington Drafthouse.
First consult Dose.ca, Tribute.ca, and Showbiz Monkeys (see Calgary above). Locally, go to Q94 and click the tab that says "Win with Q." Also check Power 97.
3. National Internet
Fat Wallet and Slick Deals each have a running bulletin board where registered members can post screenings they've heard about. But you don't have to register to know what's going on; just scroll the last few pages to read the most recent offerings, or search for your city.
The main reason I started this Advanced Screenings Guide is because the Internet had a big gaping hole that existing aggregators have failed to fill. Aggregators find the offers of other sites and compile them into one place that's easy to follow. They should only provide the links to these sites and not pretend to be the sponsor of any screenings. That's the case here. I don't give out studio passes because I have no contact with the studios. (If I ever created my own site for this Guide, I might call it Movie Outsider.) So, while graphics are non-existent here, you are looking at the best aggregator on the Web.
That said, there are other aggregators, and you are welcome to check them out. Boston-based Free Movie Screenings has a section for Various Cities that does not get updated very often, but might sometimes be handy. Also look at iScreenings. Like me, they seem to monitor the forums, but (in my humble opinion) not very consistently. They do have city-by-city forums, which could become an asset with enough user participation.
I want to say something about Wild About Movies, abbreviated WAM. Originally, it was one of my first stops for finding screenings, and I have never had a problem with their (rare) Las Vegas offers. They would produce a pass that you printed out and took to the movie theater; it can't get any easier than that. But I've since learned that people in other cities have had problems getting into screenings because the host theaters questioned the authenticity and sponsorship of a WAM printout. The forums have since treated its offers with distaste. WAM does seem to be legitimate when they link to an external provider, but for anything else, your mileage may vary.
Blackfilm will frequently have screenings in New York City, specifically Manhattan. (Sometimes they may branch out to include Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles.) Comics2Film has a screenings page, but it's not a regular provider. Movie Jungle can address a need for some cities in the Midwest (Cincinnati, Dayton, Indianapolis, Lexington, and Louisville) and South (Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh). CHUD focuses on New York City and those same Southern cities.
Upscale, Entertainment Weekly, and Giant Magazine may offer a few screenings a year. Worth a look. Also try Hollywood Life and Premiere.
4. Studios and PR firms
Every advanced screening will involve either or both, so why not just go to the source? Well, I haven't found a consistent way for that to happen. I have seen big studios (Disney, Paramount, Sony) and smaller imprints (Walden Media, Fox Faith, Miramax, Fox Searchlight) offer multi-city screenings of their releases on their own corporate sites, but I usually find them secondhand through the forums.
Sometimes a middleman like Film PR or Grace Hill Media will provide screenings in multiple cities. When they do, those links become accessible to the public, but until then, only the press or registered members can navigate the site. I am neither. So again, I find these offers on the forums.
Another option is to chat up the clipboard-toting person at a screening you attend. He or she is probably a studio representative. When you attend enough screenings, you tend to see the same person in this capacity. Their main job is to ensure that local press get a chance to review the movie before it comes out, but of equal importance is the need to fill up the rest of the room. Can't hurt to know them.
Comments are welcome. This is a work in progress, so feel free to suggest other regular sources, and notify me of any broken links.