Box Office: $4 Ticket Day Boosts ‘Blue Beetle’ and ‘Ninja Turtles’

The results are in for the second annual National Cinema Day.

On Sunday, more than 3,000 theaters across the U.S. and Canada offered patrons the chance to see any movie in the theater, in any format, for only $4. That’s a huge discount, considering the average movie ticket price is at least $10.53, while the cost can be notably higher in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. And if electing to see a film on a premium large format, including Imax, expect to pay $25 or more in some cinemas.

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The Aug. 27 promotion resulted in 8.5 million moviegoers taking a trip to the cinema. That’s an uptick of 5 percent over the 8.1 million people who participated in last year’s National Cinema Day, which fell on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. A major difference: Tickets were $3 last year.

According to Comscore, moviegoers aged 18-24 and 25-34 each made up 22 percent of the National Cinema Day audience, and the next-largest age group was 13-17 with 16 percent. Women turned out in slightly higher numbers than men, making up 52 percent of the audience.

Total revenue for this year’s National Cinema Day was $34 million, a gain of nearly 42 percent over 2022’s haul of $24 million, thanks in large part to ticket prices being raised to $4. Looking at other comps, Sunday revenue was up by 16 percent over the previous Sunday (Aug. 20). One unknown factor is how much the Sunday discount impacted Friday and Saturday attendance.

National Cinema Day is the brainchild of the Cinema Foundation, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the National Association of Theatre Owners. Jackie Brenneman, who was recently ousted as president of the Cinema Foundation and general counsel of NATO, led the effort.

In terms of general trends, films appealing to younger adults or families who are perhaps more mindful of their spending saw the biggest revenue boost from Saturday to Sunday, led by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem and Blue Beetle at 37 percent and 32 percent, respectively. The R-rated raunchy canine comedy Strays also saw a hearty 25 percent boost.

Barbie led National Cinema Day in terms of sheer grosses with $5.7 million, followed by Blue Beetle ($5.5 million), Gran Turismo ($4.7 million), Mutant Mayhem ($3.3 million) and Oppenheimer ($2.7 million). Barbie was up 6 percent from Saturday to Sunday, while Gran Turismo saw a 12 percent day-over-day boost. Oppenheimer, which has a stronghold in terms of Imax screens, was down 21 percent day-over-day.

Consumers could choose from an array of other offerings timed to National Cinema Day, including The Super Mario Bros. Movie and The Little Mermaid Sing-Along, along with rereleases of such classics as Jurassic Park (3D), American Graffiti, Lady Bird and Oldboy.

“The positive response to National Cinema Day is just another reminder of how much people love going to the movie theater,” said Michael O’Leary, the newly installed president-CEO of NATO. “These numbers show us that the future of exhibition is strong, and that consumer enthusiasm for the theatrical experience continues unabated.”

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