This Labor Day Weekend, You Can Catch a Movie for Just $3 Thanks to National Cinema Day

Theaters are still recovering from the pandemic and hope to lure viewers during a traditionally slow weekend.

Large movie chains want your butt in their seats this Labor Day weekend, and they’re offering tickets for dirt cheap in order to get you through the doors.

On Sept. 3, theaters across the country are slashing prices to $3 for every screening, in every format.

Why? It’s National Cinema Day.

Never heard of it? There’s good reason: The Cinema Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the National Association of Theater Owners, just recently made it up.

Now, there is justification for the invention of the occasion. The initial wave of the pandemic brought business to a standstill at U.S. movie houses, since gathering in close quarters with even a small group of people, let alone large arenas that can hold a couple of hundred, was incredibly risky. In Oregon, theaters were completely closed for several months, and even once they reopened, fear of catching the virus continued to keep many away despite mask mandates.

The box office has rebounded significantly this summer thanks to big-budget, big-name films like Top Gun: Maverick and Jurassic World Dominion. As of Aug. 21, there had been $3.3 billion in domestic ticket sales, according to data firm Comscore. However, that still lags behind 2019 totals by about 20%. Whether that’s because audiences just got used to screening anything and everything at home over the past two years or the fact that studios released 30% fewer wide releases in 2022 remains unknown. But one thing is clear: Theaters are still hungry for business.

Labor Day weekend is traditionally one of the slowest for movie ticket sales. At that point during summer, all of the would-be blockbusters have been out for weeks, and fall prestige films have yet to debut. Hence, the nationwide discount day, which involves more than 3,000 theaters.

In the Portland area, that includes approximately 15 Regal Cinemas, which announced Aug. 28 that they would offer all tickets for $3, including for movies playing on premium-format screens like IMAX—the company’s most advanced laser projection experience.

“This day is for movie lovers across the U.S., celebrating how movies are meant to be seen, on the big screen,” Ken Thewes, Regal’s chief marketing officer, stated in a press release.

Today, Cinemark, which has venues in Beaverton and Clackamas, shared that it would match those prices, but also offer deep discounts at the concession stand. On Sept. 3, you can score a small popcorn, medium soda or Icee, and candy for three bucks apiece.

All participating theaters will also have a special preview reel of upcoming titles from A24, Amazon Studios, Disney, Focus Features, Lionsgate, Paramount and others.

So far, online tickets at local independent theaters reflect normal pricing, which is to say, a screening at Cinema 21, Hollywood or Clinton Street will not break the bank. Most seats run somewhere between $8 and $11.

If you decide to catch a flick this long holiday weekend, may we recommend that Tom Cruise-led blockbuster that everyone’s been talking about? If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s one hell of a fun ride that is, as they say, “made for the big screen,” and maybe the most perfect summer adventure film to date.

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