National Movie Day: Movies in most US theaters will cost $3 on September 3
More than 3,000 theaters with over 30,000 screens are expected to participate in the event, including major chains like AMC and Regal. (There were about 41,000 screens at about 5,800 worksites in 2020, according to the most recent data available from the National Association of Theater Owners.)
Jackie Brenneman, president of the Motion Picture Foundation, said in a press release that the event is a “thank you” to the moviegoers who helped make this summer a relative success, and a motivation for those who have not returned to the cinema. The press release did not specify how or if studios and theaters would be compensated for the discount.
As of this weekend, the estimated domestic box office total for 2022 is $5.3 billion, according to data from ComScore, a media measurement and analytics firm. That’s up 161% from the same time last year.
The National Movie Day offering comes after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered many movie theaters as officials tried to slow the spread of covid-19. Even the once-reliable family movie genre saw box office dips last summer when the delta variant swept the country. Financial difficulties continued to plague the industry even after vaccines and boosters became available. The Associated Press reported last week that British company Cineworld, owner of Regal Cinemas, announced that it was considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States to deal with debt and empty seats.
Still, there have recently been glimmers of hope for moviegoers and industry professionals.
Subscription service MoviePass announced it had been resurrected after declaring bankruptcy in 2020, and moviegoers had more options for visiting their local cinema compared to the past two years.
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Ticket sales have increased since 2021, although they have not yet returned to 2019 numbers, Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for ComScore, told The Washington Post.
National Movie Day is a fitting celebration for “an incredible summer movie season,” he said.
“It’s a great way to bring an industry together,” he said, noting that 2021 was below traditional box office levels. “This summer, with ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, ‘Doctor Strange’ and ‘Jurassic World Dominion’, the film industry is in a position to prove to the world that the cinematic experience is here to stay.”
Amid theater closures and low attendance, Paramount Pictures pushed back the release date for ‘Maverick’ from November 2021 to May, and Disney’s Marvel Studios delayed the launch of ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ from last fall to March.
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“We are still, the movie industry, making this big comeback. It took many, many months,” Dergarabedian said. “We will probably return to a more normalized market next summer.”
According to David A. Gross, who runs Franchise Entertainment Research, a box office analyst and movie marketing consultancy, this summer had about 30% fewer blockbuster movies on the schedule compared to the pre-pandemic period.
Gross noted that “Maverick,” “Elvis,” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” have provided some of the strongest bankable movie streaks since the pandemic began.
He estimated that the total number of domestic box offices in August and September will end at 45%. lower than the same section in 2019.
The National Movie Day deal comes at a time when there’s been a lull in movie attendance with a weak movie schedule, according to Gross, whose LinkedIn profile lists a stint as Twentieth Century’s chief marketing officer. Fox in the early 1990s.
“Stock some sort of special offer to bring people in isn’t going to revolutionize the business or change the whole situation,” he said.
But the $3 deal is a good way to get more people into movie theater seats and buy concession stand items, Gross said.
The rebound to movie and box office success will depend on movie schedules, which look promising for the coming months, and time will need to be counted in years, not months, according to Gross.
Steven Zeitchik contributed to this report.