Movie theaters across the country served up plenty of popcorn on Saturday as the industry slashed tickets to a mere $3 in a one-day promotion to honor National Cinema Day. Without any new big movies on the Labor Day marquee, there wasn’t much to lose for Hollywood studios. The discount paid off, as more than 8 million consumers attended the movies — the highest attended day of the year — compared to only 1 million the day before.
Sony’s rerelease of Spider-Man: No Way Home claimed victory. The superhero pic swung to an estimated $6 million for the three days and $7.6 million for the four, according to Sunday estimates.
One bummer: That’s the lowest gross for a No. 1 Labor Day film in years but a great result for a rerelease, and especially for a recent movie.
It remains to be seen whether Spider-Man: No Way Home — which has already grossed north of $1.9 billion globally, a pandemic-era best — is the ultimate Labor Day weekend victor. According to estimates from rival studios, Top Gun: Maverick could prevail.
Paramount’s Sunday estimates show Top Gun 2 earning an estimated $5.5 million for the three days and $7 million for the four days. That’s enough to push the Paramount and Skydance film past the $700 million mark domestically in its 15th weekend in yet another milestone for the Tom Cruise movie, which has grossed more than $1.4 billion at the worldwide box office.
Normal modeling for the full holiday weekend isn’t reliable because of the $3 Saturday, meaning the order of films could change once the final weekend numbers are tallied.
Another rerelease that impressed was Steven Spielberg’s iconic summer pic Jaw, which was offered in 3D or Imax. The pic, playing in 1,246 theaters, earned an estimated $2.3 million for the three-day weekend and $2.7 million for the four.
That was ahead of new specialty film Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. The Focus Features release, playing in 1,882 locations, earned an estimated $1.4 million for the three days and $1.8 million for the four.
Not surprisingly, Saturday will be the biggest day of Labor Day weekend. Family films, led by Warner Bros.’ DC League of Super-Petsdid especially well as parents and kids look for ways to cope with the searing heatwave in the West (that applied to all consumers, actually).
National Cinema Day is the brainchild of the new Cinema Foundation, which is affiliated with the National Association Day of Theater owners and a host of other companies. The $3 promotion was intended to celebrate the rebound at the summer box office, as well as moviegoing in general.
“This event outstripped our biggest expectations. The idea of the day was to thank moviegoers for an amazing summer, and now we have to thank them for this amazing day,” Cinema Foundation president Jackie Brenneman.
A more accurate picture of Labor Day weekend results will be available Monday morning. As of now, the top five films are Spider-Man: No Way Home, Top Gun: Maverick, Bullet Train, Super-Pets and The Invitation.
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