This Saturday was dubbed “National Movie Day,” in which theaters across the U.S. slashed their ticket prices to $3 in an effort to keep people coming back to the theaters. And it worked! More than 8.1 million people went to the movies on Saturday, Diversity found, compared to 1 million the day before and 1.7 million the day after. National Movie Day brought the biggest movie theater crowds of 2022, leading to one inescapable conclusion: People will go to the movies when movies cost only three dollars. Who knew!
One thing you don’t need to put asses back in the seats? New movies. August was a month-long film slump, the result of so many shutdowns due to the pandemic and general supply chain issues. However, Tom Cruise always has the answer: the highest grosser of the day was Top Gun: Maverick, which added about $6 million to its tally over the long weekend. (Cruise and company kept theaters afloat all summer, in fact, bringing in a total of $698 million since the film opened in May.) Spider-Man: No Way Home, which came out last Christmas took second place at the box office. The best new movie this weekend — Clap for Jesus. Save your soul. — came in at #14.
But the real dark horse, the shark in the water no one saw coming, was a little film you may have heard of called Jaws. Playing in theaters across the country, the film grossed around $2.6 million over the three-day weekend. That put him in 10th place for the weekend, just behind him Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero and right before Where The Crawdads Sing. (Like I said, this isn’t a banner movie moment.) On a theater basis, Jaws in fact, it outsold every other movie in theaters this weekend. Not bad for a movie that originally hit theaters in 1975 and only made about $7 million in its opening weekend.
It certainly helped jaws event that the film was shown in 3D and IMAX for the first time. The 3D experience that stereographer Jeremy Carroll narrated The Hollywood Reporter is designed to “make you feel like you’re in the water” gets rave reviews. “We can turn up the stereo to make you feel like you’re actually in the water with the characters and the kids playing,” Carroll said, which is about as good a case for 3D movies as you’ll ever hear.
Even at 47 years old, Jaws is a perfect symbol for the future of movies. This is the film that many consider the original blockbuster and was one of the reasons why studios started releasing their best and most successful films in the summer. This is a much slower film than the latest big budget hits and I can safely say that the special effects have gotten a lot better in the last half century. But the things that make a great movie don’t really change and Jaws remains a great movie.
There’s also a lesson here for movie theaters in general, which are desperately looking for ways to convince people to leave their comfy couches and giant TVs and go see movies in theaters instead. Cheap tickets make a very compelling case. As well as new content: Spider-Man: No Way Home back in theaters this weekend with 11 additional minutes of footage for fans to enjoy. But perhaps so are those serendipitous cultural moments where millions of people can experience a movie they loved—or perhaps a classic they’ve never seen—in a new way. Half the fun of streaming is going back through all the movies from your childhood; who says movie theaters can’t do that too?