NEW YORK—As one enters the AMC Loews cinema in Midtown Manhattan on 34th Street, one wonders if the old adage about celebrating Christmas Day with family at home is nowadays about spending a day at the cinema.
Around noon cash registers were ringing nonstop as the cashiers announced that some of the 7 p.m. show times were sold out.
New Yorker Marvin Duarte came to the cinema with two of his friends and said that more will join later. For the past few years, Duarte has celebrated Christmas Day at the movies.
“It’s become a tradition,” Duarte said. “When you don’t have that 5-year-old at home, there really is no point,” he explained, saying that his little brother turned 12 years old this year.
Angela Wright from Brooklyn came to the cinema with her son and niece. Her reason for visiting the cinema was simple: “A day off from work,” she said. The three decided to skip family visits and came to the movies on Dec. 25 for the first time.
“Not today,” Wright said about celebrating with the rest of the family.
Another New Yorker, Hampton Gathers, came to the movies with his wife and four children.
“Nothing better to do,” Gathers said. The family would split to catch two different films. The older boys waited to see “Grudge Match” with Gathers, while his wife was taking the little ones to see “Frozen.”
Although most of their relatives are in New York, Gathers said, “We’ll go see them later.”
Another New Yorker, Sadia Ahmed, came to the movies to celebrate her birthday.
“We’re watching two movies in a row,” she said. They will first see “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and then “47 Ronin.” Ahmed said she doesn’t mind as she doesn’t celebrate the Christian holiday.
Last year, Christmas Day was among the highest grossing days at the box office. The date has also become a popular day to release films. This Christmas Day, films like “Grudge Match,” “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “Wolf of Wall Street,” and “47 Ronin” all opened on the Dec. 25.
A couple from Orlando, Fla., came to visit their grown daughters who live in the city. “The weather is beautiful,” said Ralph Shmitz who said they visit New York every Christmas because the cold makes him feel very healthy.
His wife, Maryanne Shmitz, said going to the movie on Christmas has also become a family tradition. “It’s what everyone does here,” she said.
Another couple from Norway who visited New York as part of their honeymoon were about to watch a three-hourlong “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” film.
“We wanted to see it in the most grandiose way,” Lance Jorgensen said when paying for the IMAX 3-D tickets at the cash register. His wife, Louisa Lodberg-Holm agreed that this kind of opportunity doesn’t come around often in their home country.
“Going to the movies in the U.S. is an experience in itself,” Lodberg-Holm said.