For one day, movie tickets will be just $3 in the vast majority of American theaters as part of a newly launched “National Cinema Day” to lure moviegoers during a quiet spell at the box office.
The Cinema Foundation, a non-profit arm of the National Association of Theater Owners, on Sunday announced that Sept. 3 will be a nationwide discount day in more than 3,000 theaters and on more than 30,000 screens. Major chains, including AMC and Regal Cinemas, are participating, as are all major film studios. In participating theaters, tickets will be no more than $3 for every showing, in every format.
Labor Day weekend is traditionally one of the slowest weekends in theaters. This year, the August lull has been especially acute for exhibitors. Cineworld, which owns Regal Cinemas, cited the scant supply of major new releases in its recent plans to fill for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
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But, if successful, National Cinema Day could flood theaters with moviegoers and potentially prompt them to return in the fall. Before each showing, ticket buyers will be shown a sizzle reel of upcoming films from A24, Amazon Studios, Disney, Focus Features, Lionsgate, Neon, Paramount, Sony Pictures Classics, Sony, United Artists Releasing, Universal, and Warner Bros.
"After this summer’s record-breaking return to cinemas, we wanted to do something to celebrate moviegoing,” said Jackie Brenneman, Cinema Foundation president, in a statement. “We’re doing it by offering a ‘thank you’ to the moviegoers that made this summer happen, and by offering an extra enticement for those who haven’t made it back yet.”
After more than two years of pandemic, movie theaters rebounded significantly over the summer, seeing business return to nearly pre-pandemic levels. Films like “Top Gun: Maverick,” "Minions: Rise of Gru,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" and “Jurassic World Dominion" pushed the domestic summer box office to $3.3 billion in ticket sales as of Aug. 21, according to data firm Comscore. That trails 2019 totals by about 20% but exhibitors have had about 30% fewer wide releases this year.
Organizers of National Cinema Day described the event as a trial that could become an annual fixture. While some other countries have experimented with a similar day of cheap movie tickets, the initiative is the first of its kind on such a large scale in the U.S.