To a theater near you: $3 movie tickets for one day

NEW YORK (AP) — For a day, movie tickets are just $3 in the vast majority of U.S. theaters as part of a recently launched “National Cinema Day” to entice moviegoers during a quiet period 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 discount day nationwide 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 movie studios. In participating theaters, tickets are no more than $3 for any performance, in any format.

Labor Day weekend is traditionally one of the slowest weekends in theaters. This year, the silence of August was particularly acute for exhibitors. Cineworld, owner of Regal Cinemas, cited the scarce supply of significant new releases in its recent plans to fill the Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

But if it succeeds, National Cinema Day could flood theaters with moviegoers and potentially push them to return in the fall. Before each screening, ticket buyers get to see a smashing movie 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 cinema attendance,” Jackie Brenneman, president of the Cinema Foundation, said in a statement. “We do this by offering a ‘thank you’ to the moviegoers who made this summer possible, and by providing an extra temptation for those who haven’t returned yet.”

After more than two years of pandemic, cinemas recovered significantly over the summer, returning business to near pre-pandemic levels. Movies 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 company Comscore. That will increase in 2019 totals by about 20%, but exhibitors have had about 30% less wide releases this year.

The organizers of National Film Day described the event as a trial that could become an annual program. While some other countries have experimented with a similar day with cheap movie tickets, the initiative is the first of its kind on such a large scale in the US.

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Follow AP film writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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