The $3 Movie Day Sells 8 Million Tickets, Led by ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

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Gimmicks: They work! Most theaters reduced ticket prices to $3 September 3 in recognition of the National Association of Theater Owners’ just-invented National Cinema Day. As a result, people bought more than 8 million tickets — the most in a single day since each of the three first days of “Avengers: Endgame” in April 2019.

Financially and psychologically, this was a bonanza for theaters. Half or more of the ticket revenue went to distributors; for exhibitors, it was all about the popcorn, the Red Vines, and their generous profit margins. For one day at least, money rolled in. The long-term impact is TBD: Prices have returned to their normal average of over $10 and the next few weeks are bleak.

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One side effect of the $3 ticket is it wreaks havoc on box-office estimates. With the top four films within $600,000 of each other, and an additional Monday to come for the four-day weekend, take the order below as an educated guess.

Long-released titles were the biggest beneficiaries of Saturday’s lower prices. The current #1 is “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (Sony) with some extended scenes’ “Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount), #2 for now and up 16 percent from last weekend (and easily #1 on bargain day); “DC League of Super-Pets” (Warner Bros.) at #3 and up 32 percent; and “Minions: The Rise of Gru” (Universal) #7 and up 17 percent. A 3-D reissue of 1975’s “Jaws” (Universal) is #9.

“Jaws” - Credit: Universal/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
“Jaws” - Credit: Universal/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Universal/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

For now, the weekend estimate is $52 million for all films, the same as last weekend’s low. It represents 55 percent of the same days in 2019, which is an improvement from last week. The overall ongoing four-week average stands at 54 percent.

Last week’s wide openers met different fates. “The Invitation” (Sony), which opened to #1, fell to #5 but its 31 percent drop was unusually small for a horror title. George Miller’s “Three Thousand Years of Longing” (United Artists) fell 47 percent from a low starting point, down to #14. The reported $60 million budget fantasy has grossed under $6 million so far.

The specialized world benefited less from the Saturday promotion. Two new 1,000 theater + releases both had per-theater averages under $1,000. Focus’ Sundance pickup, “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul,” took in $1.44 million while playing day-and-date on Peacock. “Gigi & Nate” (Roadside Attractions) grossed just over $1 million.

 

The Top 10

(totals are for the three-day weekend, with possible significant shifts since Sunday estimates are less reliable than usual).

1. Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony) (reissue)

$6,000,000 in 3,935 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $1,525; Cumulative: $810,793,000

2. Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount) Week 15; Last weekend #4; also on PVOD

$5,495,000 (+16%) in 3,113 (+151) theaters; PTA: $1,765; Cumulative: $698,825,000

3. DC League of Super-Pets (WBD) Week 6; Last weekend #6; also on PVOD

$5,450,000 (+32%) in 3,115 (-169)  theaters; PTA: $1,750; Cumulative: $80,806,000

4. Bullet Train (Sony) Week 5; Last weekend #2

$5,400,000 (-4%) in 3,117 theaters (-396); PTA: $1,732; Cumulative: $85,933,000

5. The Invitation (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend: #1

$4,705,000 (-31%) in 3,114 (no change) theaters; PTA: $1,511; Cumulative: $13,750,000

6. Beast (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #3

$3,640,000 (-25%)  in 3,217 (-537) theaters; PTA: $1,131; Cumulative: $20,378,000

7. Minions: The Rise of Gru (Universal) Week 10; Last weekend #8; also on PVOD

$3,130,000 (+15%) in 2,457 (-37) theaters; PTA: $1,274; Cumulative: $358,867,000

8. Thor: Love and Thunder (Disney) Week 9; Last weekend #9

$2,446,000 (-8%) in 2,090 (-360) theaters; PTA: $1,170; Cumulative: $339,962,000

9. Jaws (Universal) REISSUE

$2,300,000 in 1,246 theaters; PTA: $1,846; Cumulative: (adjusted) $ 1,172,447

10. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (Crunchyroll) Week 3; Last weekend #5

$(est.) 2,000,000 (-57%) in 2,500 (-600) theaters; PTA: $800; Cumulative: $34,143,000

 

“Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul” - Credit: screenshot/Focus Features
“Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul” - Credit: screenshot/Focus Features

screenshot/Focus Features

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases

Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul (Focus) – Metacritic: 64; Festivals include: Sundance 2022

$1,440,000 in 1,882 theaters; PTA: $765

Gigi & Nate (Roadside Attractions) – Metacritic: 45

$1,063,000 in 1,184 theaters; PTA: $898

Saloum (IFC) – Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Toronto 2021

$2,050 in 2 theaters; PTA: $1,025

Loving Highsmith (Zeitgeist)  Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Outfest 2022

$6,800 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,800

Carnal Knowledge (Rialto) REISSUE

$8,000 in 2 theaters; PTA: $4,000

Breaking (Bleecker Street) Week 2

$648,491 in 909 (+7) theaters; PTA: $713; Cumulative: $2,045,000

Orphan: First Kill (Paramount) Week 3; also on PVOD and Paramount Plus

$685,000 in 529 (-28) theaters;  Cumulative: $4,374,000

Emily the Criminal (Roadside Attractions) Week 4

$73,110 in 122  (-89)  theaters; Cumulative: $1,947,000

Bodies Bodies Bodies (A24) Week 5

$452,838 in 1,036 (-1,006) theaters;  Cumulative: $10,652,000

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (Focus) Week 8; also on PVOD

$127,000 in 267 (-32); Cumulative: $9,898,000

Fire of Love (Neon) Week 8

$10,775 in 41 (-12) theaters; Cumulative: $1,005,000

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8

$37,401 in 84 (-8) theaters; Cumulative: $924,310

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (A24) Week 11

$87,850 in 161 (-8) theaters; Cumulative: $6,016,000

Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) Week 20; also on PVOD

$31,400 in 46 (+7) theaters; Cumulative: $69,873,000

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