National Cinema Day will return this Sunday, August 27, for a second edition, the nonprofit Cinema Foundation announced today, with discounted admissions for all movies at over 3,000 participating theaters and 30,000 screens. Tickets for all tickets, all shows and all formats will be no more than $4.
Concession discounts are up to each exhibitor.
At last year’s event — which was held later, on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend — tickets were $3. In the midst of a slow Covid-recovery for exhibition, it brought 8.1 million people to theaters and grossed $24 million – up 8% from the previous Saturday and was the highest-attended day for movies in 2022.
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New openings Cinema Day weekend include Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story, Golda, The Hill, Retribution and Bottoms. They’ll join current box office hits Barbie, Oppenheimer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem and Sound of Freedom; recent releases like The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Disney’s The Little Mermaid Sing-Along, Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Elemental; and re-releases of Jurassic Park (3D), American Graffiti, Greta Gerwig’s 2017 Lady Bird from A24. The helmer of Barbie is now the highest-grossing female director ever at the domestic box office. See Cinema Day trailer below.
“Following the rousing success of the first annual National Cinema Day, we welcome everyone to join us for the communal experience of one of America’s favorite past times,” said Jackie Brenneman, president of The Cinema Foundation, which was launched by the National Association of Theater Owners in early 2022. She said almost every exhibitor and distributor with a movie in the marketplace is participating.
“We’ve been working on this for a while,” she told Deadline. Last year’s event was put together quickly and took some indie distributors and arthouses by surprise, although almost all participated in the end. “We tried to learn from that. To have conversations much earlier, give notice much earlier.”
In 2022, the box office was also struggling to recover and Cinema Day was “to thank moviegoers for coming back,” Brenneman said. Now it’s booming (albeit sailing into uncharted waters with ongoing Hollywood strikes). The day “is about celebrating the moviegoing experience and how important movie theaters are to our communities.”
“Movies have the power to bring us together to share in the joy, the thrill and the magic of a great story told on the big screen,” said NATO CEO Michael O’Leary, who took the org’s helm from longtime chief John Fithian earlier this year.
According to a Fandango survey of 2,000 U.S. ticket buyers after last year’s Cinema Day, the top five reasons consumer said they’d likely buy tickets for the next one included: affordable pricing; ability to see a specific movie they’d wanted to see; time with loved ones; being a big fan of a particular franchise; and a fun weekend activity. Fandango is an event sponsor.
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