Come to a theater near you: $3 one-day movie tickets

Labor Day weekend is generally pretty slow for the box office. Theater owners want to change that.

NEW YORK — Single-day movie tickets are as low as $3 at most American theaters as part of a newly introduced “National Cinema Day” to attract moviegoers during a quiet time at the box office.

The Cinema Foundation, a nonprofit arm of the National Association of Theater Owners, announced Sunday that September 3 will be a nationwide discount day at more than 3,000 theaters and on more than 30,000 screens. Big chains including AMC and Royal Cinemas, participate, as do all major film studios. At participating theaters, tickets for any performance, in any format, cost no more than $3.

Labor Day weekend is traditionally one of the slowest weekends in theaters. This year, the August lull was particularly acute for exhibitors. Cineworld, which owns Regal Cinemas, cited the meager supply of major releases in his recent plans to bankrupt Chapter 11.

But if National Cinema Day is successful, it could swamp theaters with moviegoers, potentially prompting them to return in the fall. Before each screening, ticket buyers will be offered a sizzle reel featuring upcoming films from A24, Amazon Studios, Disney, Focus Features, Lionsgate, Neon, Paramount, Sony Pictures Classics, Sony, United Artists Releasing, Universal and Warner Bros.

“Following the record-breaking return to theaters this summer, we wanted to do something to celebrate going to the cinema,” Jackie Brenneman, president of the Cinema Foundation, said in a statement. “We’re doing this by thanking moviegoers for making this summer possible, and offering an extra incentive for those who haven’t made it back yet.”

After more than two years of the pandemic, cinemas rebounded sharply over the summer and saw business return to almost pre-pandemic levels. Movies like Top Gun: Maverick, Minions: Rise of Gru, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Jurassic World Dominion brought the domestic summer box office $3.3 billion in ticket sales through August 21. according to data company Comscore. That’s about 20% below the 2019 totals, but exhibitors had about 30% fewer broad releases this year.

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National Cinema Day organizers described the event as an attempt that could become an annual fixture. While some other countries have experimented with a similar cheap movie ticket tag, the initiative is the first of its kind on such a large scale in the US Come to a theater near you: $3 one-day movie tickets

Laura Coffey

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