Movie-Goers Return to Theaters Amid Summer Blockbusters, $3 Tickets

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Movie-Goers Return to Theaters Amid Summer Blockbusters, $3 Tickets

By Liz Moyer -- People returned to movie theaters in droves this summer to take in blockbusters such as Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick, which is currently the top film of the year.

Demand has pushed ticket sales to $5.2 billion for the year, according to movie-industry tracking website BoxOfficeMojo, the best year-to-date since the pandemic.

This Saturday, to reward movie-goers more than 3,000 theaters with more than 30,000 screens will sell tickets for $3 each, sponsored by the Cinema Foundation, which is a non-profit group of the National Association of Theater Owners.

Participating theaters include AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (NYSE: AMC ) and Cineworld Group's (LON: CINE ) Regal. Both theater chains have been in the news lately for other reasons.

Last week, Cineworld said it would consider bankruptcy among its options as it explores ways to shore up its liquidity. Though movie ticket sales are improving, the fall film release calendar is light until November, and that is putting pressure on theater operator results.

Meanwhile, AMC, the largest chain operator, started trading a class of preferred shares last week, another way to raise cash if need be.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter has cut his price target on AMC stock to $2 from $4 with an underperform rating. Film exhibition is returning to normal, he said in a recent note, but the volume of the content is still not as robust as it was before the pandemic. AMC has the cash to weather a two-month slump, he said, and put it in a good position for the fourth quarter and next year.

Shares of AMC rose 2.5% and are down 65% this year, while shares of Cineworld are down 92%.

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