What just happened? Were you one of the millions of Americans that spent part of the holiday weekend at the movies? If so, you were not alone as an estimated 8.1 million moviegoers took in flicks at their local theaters on Saturday as part of the first ever National Cinema Day.

More than 3,000 theaters participated in the one-day event, offering $3 tickets for any movie, any show time and in any format across more than 30,000 screens. Some theaters also offered discounts on concessions to pair with the cheap tickets.

Simple math reveals this worked out to around $24.3 million from the sale of $3 tickets, making September 3 the highest-attended day of the year for theaters in the US to thus far. Comscore said the figure represented an increase of nine percent over the previous Saturday.

The top 10 movies on National Cinema Day, in order, were Top Gun: Maverick, DC League of Super Pets, Bullet Train, Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Invitation, Beast, Minions: The Rise of Gru, Thor: Love and Thunder, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, and Jaws.

Wait, Jaws? That is right. The 1975 Steven Spielberg classic was reissued in both IMAX and RealD 3D formats over the weekend. It is fitting that Jaws made the top 10 list as it played a key role in establishing summer as a prime time for blockbuster films so many years ago.

At the height of the pandemic when new film production was at a standstill, desperate theater owners resorted to showing classic blockbusters like Jaws, Back to the Future, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Psycho, The Goonies and Jurassic Park at a discount to try and lure moviegoers back. It worked then, and it has seemingly worked yet again.

If nothing else, National Cinema Day has demonstrated that nostalgia can still get people to open their wallets. It also proved that low-cost tickets are effective in luring moviegoers to theaters, even if there are not any brand new blockbusters to take in.

Image credit: Josh Eckstein, Pixabay