National Cinema Day breaks last year’s record as ‘Gran Turismo’ tops ‘Barbie’ at the box office

National Cinema Day continues to break records for movie theaters.

8.5 million movie tickets were purchased for Sunday’s National Cinema Day, an increase over last year’s total of 8.1 million admissions, according to a report from Deadline.

Tickets to movies at over 3,000 theaters, including top chains like AMC

and Regal, were just $4 each for the promotion — at any showtime and in all movie formats, including Imax and 3D. Tickets for the holiday in 2022 were sold for $3 each.

New release “Gran Turismo” took the top spot at this weekend’s U.S. box office ahead of “Barbie,” which is now in its sixth weekend. “Gran Turismo” ended up with $17.4 million from North American theaters against “Barbie’s” $15.1 million.

2023 was the second year that movie theaters had this promotion. Last year’s inaugural National Cinema Day, put on by the Cinema Foundation, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Association of Theater Owners, got people back to the movies mainly because its discounted ticket price compared favorably to the average movie admission, which cost $10.53 in 2022.

Last year’s promotion turned into the highest attended day of the year for theaters, but National Cinema Day in 2023 won’t be a yearly attendance record due to the success of the opening weekend of “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” in July.

Late summer is typically a quieter time at the box office, because most of the big summer blockbusters have already debuted. And the August period is still well before the other big releases around Thanksgiving and the December holiday season hit screens.

But this year, thanks to remarkably sustained interest in “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” the summer box office has been booming. This season’s box office is up to $3.88 billion in gross ticket sales through Monday, according to data firm Box Office Mojo, about $500 million ahead of last year with still a week until the end of the summer.

Read on: DVD giveaway: Netflix to let people keep the DVDs they rented

The success of National Cinema Day comes at an unpredictable time for the entertainment industry.

The Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) are each independently striking against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which is made up of major movie studios and streaming companies including Netflix

and Sony Pictures
The writers, actors and artists are demanding higher royalty checks, more consistent pay periods and stricter rules against the use of artificial intelligence, among other concerns.

Citing the impact of the strikes, studios have pushed back release dates of high-profile upcoming films including “Deadpool 3,” “Dune: Part Two,” and a new “Lord of the Rings” film.

Read on: Netflix criticized for posting AI jobs paying up to $900,000 while writers and actors are on strike

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