Record Labor Day Crowds Fill Movie Theaters, Boosting Box Office Turnaround Hopes

Kimberly Redmond  |

Video source: YouTube, CNBC Television

A record number of moviegoers went to the theaters over Labor Day weekend, giving big chains like AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (NYSE:  AMC) and Cinemark Holdings Inc (NYSE:  CNK) hope of a turnaround at the box office after weathering widespread cinema closures during the pandemic.

On Tuesday, AMC said more than 2 million people watched a movie at one of its US locations between Sept. 2 and Sept. 5, beating out its previous Labor Day revenue record in 2013. 

Cinemark, which operates more than 320 theaters across the US, told Forbes it welcomed nearly 2 million guests over Labor Day weekend, exceeding 2019’s pre-pandemic holiday weekend attendance levels. 

Adam Aron, chairman and chief executive officer of AMC, pointed to the Walt Disney Company’s new Marvel Universe film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings as the main driver of foot traffic over the long weekend.

“This encouraging surge in attendance at AMC signals that as Hollywood releases movies, Americans eagerly want to return to movie theaters again,” Aron said. 

It also helps to have a good movie in the theaters. Shang-Chi has a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 98% audience score.

Over the past year, AMC, which has 950 locations worldwide, has seen a 92.3% drop in attendance.  

Following a $4.6 billion loss in 2020, the Kansas-based company came close to filing for bankruptcy. In January 2021, however, AMC announced it had raised $917 million in new equity and debt capital to help it stay afloat this year. 

With theaters now fully reopened, movie chains continue to remain hopeful that new films, along with rising COVID-19 vaccination rates, will help the industry bounce back.   

Shang-Chi registered $71.4 million in ticket sales on Friday, Saturday and Sunday — the second highest opening during the pandemic — just behind Black Widow, which brought in more than $80 million during its debut in July. 

CNBC noted that the total box-office haul for Shang-Chi over the four-day holiday weekend topped $90 million, nearly triple that of the previous Labor Day weekend record holder Halloween, which collected $30.6 million in 2007. 

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Source: Equities News

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