Grab some popcorn: Movie tickets are $3 this Saturday

Long Beach movie fans can escape the heat this Saturday for cheap, with movie theaters offering $3 (plus tax) tickets for all movies in all formats in celebration of “National Cinema Day.”

The one-day event is taking place at more than 3,000 theaters with more than 30,000 screens across the country, including Cinemark at the Pike in Downtown, Regal Edwards Long Beach at the Towne Center and AMC Marina Pacifica.

“After this summer’s record-breaking return to cinemas, we wanted to do something to celebrate moviegoing,” Cinema Foundation President Jackie Brenneman said in a statement Sunday. “We’re doing it by offering a ‘thank you’ to the moviegoers that made this summer happen, and by offering an extra enticement for those who haven’t made it back yet.”

The foundation is the nonprofit arm of the National Association of Theater Owners.

National Cinema Day will include a special sneak peek of upcoming titles from A24, Amazon Studios, Disney, Focus Features, Lionsgate, Neon, Paramount, Sony, United Artists Releasing, Universal and Warner Bros., according to the foundation.

Theaters were slammed by the pandemic. Prior to COVID-19, it was not uncommon for gross ticket sales to reach over $1.1 billion in a single month, according to Box Office Mojo. In 2019, sales per month ranged from over $624 million to nearly $1.3 billion.

In April 2020, ticket sales were decimated, barely surpassing $52,000.

Since bottoming out, it has been a slow recovery for the industry. Ticket sales did not surpass $100 million again until March 2021 and did not reach normal levels until months later in October, when they reached over $623 million.

By December, things were looking up, with sales reaching over $921 million, but the omicron variant of COVID-19 sent ticket sales tumbling back below $400 million earlier this year.

The late spring and summer months, however, have seen a strong return of moviegoers. For the first time since December 2020, gross ticket sales surpassed the $1.1 billion mark in July, accounting for over 21% of this year’s sales.

Labor Day weekend is historically one of the slowest weekends for theaters, with many people opting instead to spend time outdoors at barbecues and, in Southern California, at the beach. But the foundation hopes the promotion will counter tradition and flood theaters with viewers.

While slashing ticket prices may sound like a bad business move, theaters make about one-third of their revenue through concession sales, according to Business Insider. Kim Moon, a marketing instructor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told Business Insider in 2019 that this is why the food imagery inside theaters is so prominent.

“If they did not have concessions,” Moon said, “they wouldn’t be in business.”

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