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Theatres across the nation celebrate National Cinema Day, increase turnout

The Lumina Theater, pictured on Sunday, September 4, 2022, is one of the local movie theaters participating in National Cinema Day.

Movie ticket prices fell to $3 last Saturday as the inaugural National Cinema Day kicked off across the United States.

Over 30,000 participating theaters in more than 3,000 locations throughout the nation welcomed over eight million moviegoers total. According to Fortune, the event brought in $24.3 million for cinemas nationwide. 

Bryan Braunlich, the executive director for The Cinema Foundation, said National Cinema Day is a way of celebrating movie-going by getting people into the theater.

"There's nothing like the big screen," he said. 

National Cinema Day was made possible by The Cinema Foundation, a nationwide nonprofit that was created by the National Association of Theatre Owners.

While the association primarily influences policymakers and helps movie distributors with new technology, legislation, marketing and First Amendment issues, The Cinema Foundation is dedicated to promoting cinema, developing diverse workforces and growing moviegoing communities. 

Jackie Brenneman, president of The Cinema Foundation, said the organization served as a facilitator to put National Cinema Day together and to advertise the event. 

“We got to have the conversations with all the various studios to see if they were interested in participating in the day, and we got to have conversations with all of the exhibitors and movie theater owners to see if they wanted to participate in the day,” Brenneman said.

The day featured about 30 major movies. "Top Gun: Maverick," "DC League of Super-Pets," "Bullet Train," "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and "The Invitation" sat towards the top of the box office list.

Participating theaters near UNC's campus included The Lumina Theater, Silverspot Cinema and the two AMC theaters located at the Streets at Southpoint and Martin Luther King Jr Parkway.

“People responded well to it," Jim Moran, assistant manager for The Lumina Theater said. "I think it had a great turnout."

Moran added it felt as though most community members were well aware of the event. 

At the AMC DINE-IN Southpoint 17, Durham resident Matt Neal said he came to watch "Jaws" with his friend and their families. He added National Cinema Day helped him save money at the theater.

“We are excited – we are going to see Jaws, which we've seen before, but never on the big screen,” he said. “I love the lighting and the color, so I'm excited about seeing it on a big screen.”

Neal added it was the first time he'd been to a theater since 2021, and he liked the feeling of being around crowds.

Chris Wilkes, a resident of Chapel Hill who was at the theater at Southpoint, said he brought his kids to watch "DC League of Super-Pets" and thinks the event is a great idea and one that his kids loved.

Wilkes added that he thinks National Cinema Day is a great idea because movie theaters might benefit from the increase in business. 

Jonathan Pena, another Durham resident at the theater, said he watched two movies on National Cinema Day. While one had a fuller audience, the other only had a handful of people present. 

"I think the problem was it wasn't such a big theater — there was probably a good amount of people, it just looked small in comparison," he said.

Pena added that there were crowds for other movies in the theater and it felt like a lot of people filled the building.

Braunlich said there might be future National Cinema Days and The Cinema Foundation plans to possibly make them larger annual events.

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“We are looking forward to seeing how this one goes, and hopefully making this an annual event," he said in an interview before the day.


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