This Saturday was dubbed “National Cinema Day,” with theaters across the US slashing their ticket prices to $3 in an effort to keep people back to the movies. And it worked! More than 8.1 million people went to the movies on Saturday, Variety found it, compared to 1 million the day before and 1.7 million the day after. National Cinema Day in 2022 brought the most crowds to theaters every day, leading to one inevitable conclusion: people go to the cinema when movies cost just three dollars. Who knows!
One thing wasn’t necessary to get the butts back in the seats? New movies. August was a month-long movie, the result of so many pandemic shutdowns and general supply chain problems. Tom Cruise, however, always has the answer: the best grosser of the day was Top Gun: Maverick, which added about $6 million to the box office over the long weekend. (Cruise and co have kept theaters afloat all summer, bringing in a total of $698 million since the film’s release in May.) Spider-Man: No Way Home, which came out last Christmas took second place at the box office. This weekend’s top-performing new movie — Honk for Jesus. Save your soul. — came in at #14.
But The Real Dark Horse, The Shark In The Water That No One Saw Coming, Was A Little Movie You Might Have Heard Of jaws. The film played in theaters across the country, earning approximately $2.6 million over its three-day weekend. That put it 10th for the weekend, just behind Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero and just before Where the crayfish sing. (Like I said, it’s not a movie banner moment.) Per theater, jaws actually outperformed any other movie in theaters this weekend. Not bad for a movie that originally hit theaters in 1975 — and only made about $7 million over its opening weekend.
It certainly helped jaws’ case the film was shown for the first time in 3D and IMAX. The 3D experience, that stereographer Jeremy Carroll told The Hollywood Reporter is designed to “make you feel like you are in the water”, is get rave reviews. “We can play the stereo so you feel like you’re really in the water with the characters and the kids playing,” said Carroll, which is about as good a thing for 3D movies as you’ll ever hear.
Even at the age of 47, jaws is a perfect symbol for the future of movies. It’s the movie that deserves a lot of praise if the original blockbuster, and was one of the reasons studios started releasing their best and most successful films in the summer. It’s a much slower movie than most recent big-budget hits, and I can safely say that the special effects have gotten a lot better over the past half century. But the things that make a great movie don’t really change, and jaws still a great movie.
There’s also a lesson here for movie theaters in general, who are desperate for ways to convince people to leave their comfy couch and big screen TV and go watch movies in the cinema instead. Cheap tickets are a very convincing case. So is new content: Spider-Man: No Way Home back in the cinema this weekend with 11 extra minutes of movie for fans to enjoy. But maybe so are these occasional cultural moments, when millions of people can experience a movie they loved—or maybe a classic they’ve never seen before—in a new way. Half the fun of streaming is rewinding through all the movies from your childhood; who says movie theaters can’t?