More moviegoers went to the theaters this past Labor Day weekend than in 2019 following the release of Shang-Chi, theater chains said Tuesday, marking the first time attendance has surpassed pre-coronavirus-pandemic numbers, and giving movie theaters hope for a revenue turnaround at the box office after a lackluster year.
AMC Theaters said more than two million people watched a movie at one of its more than 380 U.S. AMC theaters between September 2 and September 5, beating out its previous Labor Day revenue record in 2013.
The company also noted that over the Labor Day weekend, movie theater attendance eclipsed that of the same weekend in 2019, the first time that has happened since the pandemic began.
Cinemark, which has 323 movie theaters across the U.S., told Forbes it also welcomed nearly two million people to its movie theaters over the 4-day Labor Day weekend, exceeding 2019’s Labor Day weekend attendance levels.
The tide of moviegoers is largely attributed by the theater chains to the release of Shang-Chi, which according to Deadline, made a 4-day total of over $94 million, and recorded the best Monday movie theater box office numbers since the pandemic began.
The two other large movie theater chains in the U.S., Regal Cinemas and Cineworld, did not immediately respond to Forbes for a comment.
The better than expected Labor Day weekend box office marks another step toward recovery for movie theater chains. In the first quarter of this year, Cinemark posted a revenue loss of $208.8 million, according to The Wrap, while AMC had a $567 million net loss during the same quarter. However, the movie theater chains saw some recovery during the second quarter, with both companies exceeding Wall Street analyst revenue estimates. Cinemark, which reopened all of its U.S. theaters by June 30, had a $9 million increase in revenue compared to the same quarter in 2020. AMC saw a 7 million bump in movie theater attendance from the first quarter of this year and posted over $440 million revenue in its second quarter, higher than the expected $382 million. This marks good news for movie theater chains, which have had to deal with movie delays including Top Gun: Maverick, the latest Mission Impossible movie and John Wick: Chapter 4, and movies moving from the box office to stream exclusively online like Transylvania: Transformania.
Over the Labor Day weekend, Asian-American groups in places like the Bay area organized theater buyouts for Shangi-Chi, in which they bought out all the tickets available for movie screenings and gave them out to community members. Asian and Pacific Islander non-profit Gold House also worked with GoFundMe to provide funds to help communities organize screenings to watch Shang-Chi, raising over $36,000.