There are two ways to shave 40% off a night at the movies.

The easy way is to go see the matinee. Shorter lines, lighter (and quieter), the exact same movie -- what's not to love?

The harder way to get the markdown is to buy shares of Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE:RGC). The movie exhibitor is slashing its quarterly dividend by 40%, from $0.30 a share to $0.18 a share.

"Regal is not under stress from debt commitments or loan maturities, our balance sheet is strong, and we are optimistic regarding the 2009 film slate," CEO Mike Campbell explains in this morning's press release. "But we believe that the current environment requires a more conservative capital strategy, and that these combined actions allow the Company to retain more capital for de-leveraging its balance sheet and other opportunities."

Campbell should have simply said, "Sorry investors, we can't keep spoiling you with a 12.5% yield."

The new yield of 7.5%, based on last night's close, is probably still too good to be true. Sure, the new payout is less than the $0.93 a share that analysts see the multiplex giant earning this year, but Regal has $2 billion in long-term debt on its balance sheet worth tackling.

As for "other opportunities," there are naturally plenty of attractive acquisition targets out there. Buying up smaller exhibitors like Cinemark (NASDAQ:CNK), Carmike (NASDAQ:CKEC), and Marcus (NYSE:MCS) make a lot of sense in a fragmented industry that is ripe for consolidations. However, better advice may be to diversify into related areas by snapping up companies like IMAX (NASDAQ:IMAX) or in-theater advertising network National CineMedia (NASDAQ:NCMI). The moves would allow give the company the opportunity to spread its risk around, without straying from its celluloid stronghold.

Either way, I'll stick to my first tip about just going to the matinee instead. At least then I know I'm getting a good deal.

Other hits to catch on your not-so-big monitor screen:

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a movie buff but he does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.