The Orca Theater on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Orca Theater on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Cheap movies at local theaters for National Cinema Day

Both local movie theaters will be participating in National Cinema Day on Saturday, offering admission at $3 to any and every showing, regardless of showtime or format.

A report from The Associated Press says, according to the National Association of Theater Owners, over 3,000 theaters will participate. This includes the largest chains, like Regal Cinemas and AMC, as well as regional companies, like Coming Attractions Theaters who operate the Kenai Cinema in Kenai, and even family owned establishments like the Orca Theater in Soldotna.

“National Cinema Day is a one day event to celebrate moviegoing,” Kim Neufield, director of sales and marketing at Coming Attractions, said. “We thought it was a great thing. So we definitely wanted to be a part of it.”

This weekend was selected because Labor Day weekend has traditionally been slow for theaters, according to the AP report. The event was designed to drive attendance and also as part of an ongoing effort to get more moviegoers back into seats in an entertainment landscape forever changed by COVID-19.

Shelley Endsley, who owns the Orca Theater, said COVID-19 still impacts the film industry.

“The film companies are trying to figure out what to do. There have been a couple movies that have been pushed back to 2023, even 2024,” she said. “They’re trying anything to help us encourage people to come back.”

Endsley said choosing the date was a big process. The National Association of Theater Owners had to get permission from all of the film companies to sell discounted tickets and ensure it was a weekend without a major opening, so that money wouldn’t be taken away from a film premiere.

To celebrate the film industry, this year’s biggest blockbusters are being featured on National Cinema Day at both Kenai Cinema and the Orca Theater.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” was already expected to return this weekend with a new extended edition release, but “Top Gun: Maverick” – the highest grossing film so far this year – will also be returning.

Neufield said the extended edition of “Spider-Man” would be an exciting driver for friends and families. The “More Fun Stuff” edition of the film is debuting in theaters this weekend, and features 11 new minutes of footage in the form of deleted or extended scenes.

Social media promotion for the new release teases that this new footage will include more time with the surprise cameo appearances that made the film a success in December.

Endsley says “Top Gun” has been highly requested by guests who want to see the film again.

“Hands down, I’ve seen it three or four times and I would go see it again,” she said.

According to Endsley, part of the appeal in the community is because the film is viewed as patriotic.

Aside from just cheap tickets, a sizzle reel featuring footage and teasers for upcoming films will be shown ahead of shows on Saturday. According to a press release from Coming Attractions Theaters, the sizzle reel features films from A24, Amazon Studios, Disney, Focus Features, Lionsgate, Neon, Paramount, Sony, United Artists Releasing, Universal and Warner Bros. Included films have not been specified at this time.

Neufield and Endsley both said this reel will be part of the showings at their theaters. It will be included as part of the feature presentation after the pre-show ads. Endlsey said the package is around four minutes in length.

Endsley said the Orca Theater will also be holding giveaways to celebrate the occasion and that she’s trying to come up with a discount for the concession stand.

National Cinema Day is an opportunity for “family time,” according to Endsley.

“It’s cheap, it’s entertainment. You need something around here to entertain, something to do,” she said. “We couldn’t survive without the community, so we appreciate everything, the support and the love that they’ve given us.”

Kenai Cinema will be showing “Beast,” “Bullet Train,” “DC League of Super-Pets,” “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “The Invitation,” “Thor: Love and Thunder,” and “Top Gun: Maverick” on Saturday. Showtimes and tickets can be found at catheaters.com

The Orca Theater will be showing “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Top Gun: Maverick” on Saturday. Showtimes and tickets can be found at orcatheater.com

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com

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