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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Gainesville community celebrates the second annual National Cinema Day

Moviegoers flooded Gainesville theaters Sunday to honor the celebration, selling out several movies

<p>Amber Cabassa flashes her pink rotary dial phone purse at Regal Celebration Pointe on Wednesday, July 19, 2023.</p><p><br/><br/><br/><br/></p>

Amber Cabassa flashes her pink rotary dial phone purse at Regal Celebration Pointe on Wednesday, July 19, 2023.

The rise of digital media and streaming platforms has led many people to opt out of the traditional movie-going experience. However, hundreds of people gathered in Gainesville Sunday for National Cinema Day to show their appreciation for film and movie theaters. 

Gainesville’s three movie theaters — Regal Celebration Pointe, Royal Park and Butler Town Center — celebrated National Cinema Day Sunday with $4 tickets for all movies and showtimes and discounted snack prices. The theaters even brought back several classic films for the day, such as the award-winning “Lady Bird,” “Jurassic Park,” “Coraline” and “American Graffiti.” 

The comeback of old films and discounted prices caused several movies like Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” to sell out, leading the theaters to add more showtimes to satisfy Gainesville residents' desire for Timothée Chalamet and coming-of-age romance. 

For many families and young adults, it was their first time visiting the movie theater in months. 

Danielle Ivanov, a 23-year-old UF journalism graduate, visited the theater with coworkers to see “Barbie.”

“I haven’t really been since COVID,” Ivanov said. “My husband loves movies, but I kind of just watch on Netflix.”

Movie tickets’ expensive prices can act as a barrier for many people. Moviegoers on Sunday said the discounted tickets played an essential role in encouraging them to visit for the special occasion. 

Jamie Harris, a 23-year-old UF medical student, spent her afternoon at Celebration Pointe flaunting an all-pink outfit to celebrate her second “Barbie” viewing.

“This is like a one-time kind of special treat for me,” Harris said. “If it were not for the discounted prices, I probably wouldn’t be here, and I definitely would not have gotten snacks.”

Many families and friends viewed the celebration as an opportunity to watch “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s beloved “Oppenheimer” for the first time since its release in late July. Young adults and several mothers and daughters dressed in pink to honor “Barbie,” and one toddler skipped around in a pink-sequined tutu. 

Rafe Sabatino, an 18-year-old student at Williston High School, decided to dress up with two of his close friends to see “Oppenheimer.” The three students wore suits and ties and said they had been planning the occasion for about a month. 

Although it was a joyous day at Celebration Pointe as people’s voices echoed with excitement throughout the lobby, the event reminded some cinephiles of the ongoing strikes in the film industry.

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Owen Ward, the 19-year-old English sophomore and UF Film Society President, said National Cinema Day was a somber occasion for him this year. 

“So many films have been delayed due to the ongoing strikes,” Ward said. “Knowing that thousands of workers are struggling to scrape by and are yet so dedicated to providing us all with the content that we love and cherish makes enjoying the celebration a bit more difficult.”

Despite his worries about the recent challenges in the film industry, Ward said he was looking forward to National Cinema Day and spending the evening with his friends. 

“We watch films and incorporate them into our everyday lives, even if we don’t always notice,” Ward said. “They inspire us, teach us empathy and show us new ways of looking at the world.” 

Contact Alexandra Burns at Follow her on Twitter @alexaburnsuf.

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