More than 3,000 theaters with over 30,000 screens are expected to participate in the event, including major chains such as AMC and Regal. (There were about 41,000 screens in about 5,800 locations in 2020, according to the most recent data available from the National Association of Theater Owners.)
Jackie Brenneman, president of the Cinema Foundation, said in a press release that the event is a “thank you” to moviegoers who helped make this summer a relative success and motivation. for those who haven’t returned to the theaters. The announcement did not specify how or if studios and theaters would be compensated for the discount.
As of this weekend, the estimated 2022 domestic box office total is $5.3 billion, according to data from Comscore, a media measurement and analytics company. That’s up 161 percent from this time last year.
The National Cinema Day offering comes after the coronavirus pandemic closed many cinemas as officials tried to slow the spread of Covid-19. Even the once-reliable family film genre took a dip at the box office last summer when the delta variant swept the country. Financial difficulties have continued to plague the industry even after vaccines and boosters became available. The Associated Press reported last week that British company Cineworld, which owns Regal Cinemas, announced it is considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States to deal with debt and empty seats.
However, recently there has been a glimmer of hope for moviegoers and industry professionals.
Subscription service MoviePass announced that it has been revived after filing for bankruptcy in 2020, and moviegoers had more options to visit their local theater 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 Cinema Day is a fitting celebration of “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 movie industry is able to show the world that the movie-going experience is here to stay.”
Amid theater closings and low attendance, Paramount Pictures bumped the release date of “Maverick” from November 2021 to this May, and Disney’s Marvel Studios delayed the debut of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” from last fall to March.
Amid delta concerns, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ release moves from November to May 2022
“We’re still, the movie industry, making that big comeback. It took many, many months,” said Dergarabedian. “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, there were about 30 percent fewer big blockbusters on the schedule this summer compared to pre-pandemic times.
Gross noted that “Maverick,” “Elvis” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” delivered some of the strongest possible film stretches since the pandemic began.
He estimated that the total figures of domestic receipts in August and September will be 45 percent lower than the same stretch in 2019.
The National Movie Day deal comes at a time when there is a lull in movie attendance along with a lackluster movie schedule, according to Gross, whose LinkedIn profile lists a position as head of marketing for Twentieth Century Fox in early the 1990s.
“Doing some kind of special offer to bring in people is not going to revolutionize the business or change the bigger picture,” he said.
The $3 deal is a good way to get more people in the movie seats and buy concession items, Gross said.
The recovery of success at the movies and box office will depend on movie schedules, which look promising for the coming months, and time will have to be measured in years, not months, according to Gross.
Steven Zeitchik contributed to this report.