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National Cinema Day this weekend means $3 movie tickets - here's what to know, what'll be playing

If you want some cheap movie tickets, head to theaters this weekend.

By Matthew Jackson
Friends sharing popcorn while sitting in theater

Though we definitely had some big summer releases from May through July, August has been a relatively quiet month at the box office, and that means a lull in business for movie theaters around the country. Now, The Cinema Foundation is hoping to change that with a nationwide, one-day event that gives just about everyone the chance to see any movie they want for three bucks. 

"National Cinema Day," a celebration of moviegoing that will be anchored by the offer of discount tickets at more than 3,000 theaters around the country, is set to launch this Saturday, Sept. 3, in a bid to lure people back to the movies after a slow month that's proved to be a struggle for theater owners. The idea is simple: Participating theaters will offer $3 tickets to any movie, in any format, all day on Saturday, with the hope that the seats will be packed. 

After this summer’s record-breaking return to cinemas, we wanted to do something to celebrate moviegoing,” Jackie Brenneman, Cinema Foundation president, told the Associated Press. “We’re doing it by offering a ‘thank you’ to the moviegoers that made this summer happen, and by offering an extra enticement for those who haven’t made it back yet.”

The event will be widespread thanks to the participation of major theater chains like Regal and AMC, as well as the major studios whose films will be part of the event. Each National Cinema Day showing on Saturday will also include a sizzle reel, shown before ever movie, previewing upcoming offerings from participating distributors like A24, Amazon Studios, Disney, Focus Features, Lionsgate, Neon, Paramount, Sony Pictures Classics, Sony, United Artists Releasing, Universal, and Warner Bros. So if someone decides to venture out to celebrate cheap movies, they'll get a marketing blast of everything they'll be missing if they don't come back in a few weeks or months. 

As for what'll actually be playing? Moviegoers can expect a mix of holdover blockbusters and some enticing mid-budget fare. Some genre highlights include the extended cut of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Beast, Fall, Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World Dominion, NOPE, The Invitation, Bullet Train and Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. 

While special discount days have of course happened before on a smaller scale and in other countries, National Cinema Day marks the first time such an event has been organized on a large scale in the U.S. If its successful, the Cinema Foundation hopes to make it an annual event. 

To find out if your local theater is participating in National Cinema Day, check showtime listings and prices.