CARY, NC. (WTVD) — Cinemas are relying on major releases to spur sales in the last month of 2022 as they work to recover from a strong pandemic slump.
“Especially heading into the holidays, whether it’s your family outing, birthday celebrations or your corporate group, it’s definitely been more stable than in the past and we’re looking forward to a great year-end,” said Ashley Dreps , Director of Sales and Marketing at Paragon Theaters Parkside in Cary.
The cinema opened in December 2021, with Dreps reporting that they have seen an increase in pre-show and on-day ticket sales in recent months.
“Before the pandemic, we were big moviegoers. It’s like now we can just come back and buy a ticket in cinemas instead of having to buy a ticket online weeks in advance. It feels good to just be able to walk in,” added Damion Davis, who joined Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on Thursday afternoon.
Total gross sales in 2022 are approaching nearly $6.6 billion, up nearly 50% from 2021, according to Box Office Mojo, although it still falls about $5 billion short of 2019 sales. The pandemic forced cinemas and film sets to close, prompting production companies to be more cautious about their investments. Box Office Mojo reports that there were 442 releases in 2022 compared to 993 in 2019; Average gross per film is at its highest level since 2010.
Tickets at the Paragon Theater Parkside start at $6, below the 2019 average of $9.16 reported by the National Association of Theater Owners.
“We’re definitely trying to get people here to have a good time seeing the film,” said Dreps.
The amount is also a recognition of price sensitivity, which has attracted more attention amid high inflation.
The Paragon Theater Parkside has expanded its offerings, installing zero-gravity chairs, adding larger and new screens, and allowing ordering directly at your seat. While the natural focus is on the movies, the business has also moved away from just theater.
“There is more than one way to get here. It’s not just a cinema. They can bowl too,” said Liam Simpson, who was spotted playing virtual golf with his family on ABC11.
There is a full restaurant and bar connected to the theater to appeal to different audiences and entice customers to stay longer.
“Compared to before, you might go here and then you might go to a separate restaurant or different bar, so it makes it more convenient to have everything in the same place,” Davis said.
It’s also an attempt to counter streaming services, which have grabbed a growing market share and acquired and produced their own releases.
“I definitely think that’s going to be the trend moving forward. I never see myself going to a normal theater. Drive-in theaters are still cool, but this one definitely is,” Dreps said.
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