Theatre & Film

Celebrate National Cinema Day with discounted tickets at theaters across Houston

As part of a nationwide promotion on Saturday, many movie-theater chains as well as smaller, independent venues are selling tickets for $3 or less per showing.

As part of National Cinema Day on Saturday, tickets at many theaters across the Houston area will be sold for $3 or less per showing.

The last two years have been particularly hard on movie theaters, and that's especially true for Wellborne Cinema Four.

The independent theater in the Houston suburb of Alvin closed in March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and did not reopen until earlier this summer, according to owner Andrew Thomas, who said technical problems with his projectors compounded the decline in business associated with pandemic-related shutdowns. Wellborne Cinema Four enjoyed somewhat of resurgence in recent months along with the rest of the film industry, but now that school is back in session and there are few new releases, Thomas said the theater lost money by operating during the last two weekends.

He hopes for a significant spike in revenue this Saturday, when Wellborne is joining theaters throughout the Houston area and across the rest of the United States to celebrate National Cinema Day. Participating theaters are offering tickets for $3 or less per showing, not including tax, with Thomas saying he's charging $2 per ticket at Wellborne, 324 E. House St.

"We're really hopeful that a lot of folks will come out for us down in Alvin," Thomas said. "It really matters. If you like going to the movies, please, please, please come to a show."

America's inaugural National Cinema Day was organized by The Cinema Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the National Association of Theatre Owners, and is modeled after similar events held in other parts of the world. Foundation president Jackie Brenneman said more than 3,000 theaters with a total of more than 30,000 screens are participating.

Among the participating movie-theater chains, which each have multiple locations in the Houston region, are Alamo Drafthouse, AMC, Cinemark, Regal, Star Cinema Grill and Studio Movie Grill.

"Some of the bigger independent chains, earlier this week they were cited as not participating, and now they are," Brenneman said. "We're seeing a groundswell of support. I would think that almost in every community, you'll find participating theaters."

Thomas also owns two drive-in theaters in the Houston area – Moonstruck Drive-In in EaDo and Showboat Drive-In in Hockley – but he said those outdoor venues are not participating in the National Cinema Day promotion because they offer double features and sell tickets per vehicle instead of per seat.

The bulk of revenue generated at most movie theaters, according to Thomas, does not come from tickets sales, which theaters split with production studios. More profitable, he said, are auxiliary services such as concessions and game rooms.

So even though movie tickets are being sold for $3 or less this Saturday, there figures to be a benefit for the businesses as well as their customers.

"It's a win for us, because getting people into the building to then spend money at the concession stand is always the name of the game," Thomas said. "That's really what everyone is looking forward to Saturday."

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required