How To See A Movie For Just $3 At The Theater

National Cinema Day means you can see nearly any film in a movie theater for just $3 and we can tell you how.

By Charlene Badasie | Updated

movie theater

To celebrate the first-ever National Cinema Day on September 3rd, movie tickets will cost just $3 for every show, in every format. The newly-minted holiday aims to attract film enthusiasts during a quiet spell at the box office. The Cinema Foundation, a non-profit arm of the National Association of Theater Owners, said the nationwide discount will apply to over 3,000 theaters and on more than 30,000 screens. Major chains, like AMC and Regal Cinemas, are participating, as are all major movie studios.

The promotion serves to recognize a summer of record-breaking movie-going with repeat screenings of popular releases like Top Gun: Maverick, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and the 1975 blockbuster Jaws. There will also be special in-theater promotions and exclusive previews of upcoming titles from A24, Amazon Studios, Disney, Focus Features, Lionsgate, Neon, Paramount, Sony Pictures Classics, Sony, United Artists Releasing, Universal, and Warner Bros.

Speaking about National Cinema Day, Cinema Foundation President Jackie Brenneman said the organization wanted to do something to celebrate the amazing return to movie theaters. “We’re doing it by offering a thank you to the people who made this summer happen, and by offering an extra enticement for those who haven’t made it back yet,” she told Deadline. However, the move isn’t purely celebratory. Labor Day weekend is traditionally one of the slowest box office weekends, with the August lull being especially acute for exhibitors this year.

While this year’s box office numbers have increased significantly compared to the same time last year, attendance is still down more than 30% compared to 2019, according to Axios. Moreover, this year’s percentage of movie theater revenue earned by R-rated films is the lowest it’s been in over 25 years. Although the popularity of streaming services is partly to blame, Regal Cinemas’ parent company Cineworld cited the scant supply of major new releases in its recent plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The decision will also help the movie theater company restructure its massive debt, the Wall Street Journal reports. But if National Cinema Day is successful, the first-time endeavor could flood venues with moviegoers and potentially prompt them to return in the fall. Sadly, advance sales appear to be slow with AMC’s location in the Century City neighborhood of Los Angeles selling just four seats each to early evening screenings of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero and The Invitation which were the number one movies in the U.S over the past two weekends. 

Hoping to create more buzz around National Cinema Day, a few movie theater chains like AMC and Cinemark are offering food deals along with discounted tickets.AMC is offering a $5 fountain drink and popcorn combo meal, while Cinemark is dropping the prices for its medium ICEEs, medium fountain drinks, candy, and small popcorn to $3.

Organizers of National Cinema Day are calling the movie theater event a trial run that could become a yearly occurrence if successful. The initiative is the first of its kind on a large scale in the United States. However, according to Deadline, some art-house chains declined to participate. Visit the official Cinema Day website to check availability in your area.