National Cinema Day 2023: What to watch on the big screen this Saturday

National Cinema Day (Samuel Regan-Asante / Unsplash)
National Cinema Day (Samuel Regan-Asante / Unsplash)

Launched as a scheme to entice people back to the big screen, National Cinema Day 2023 falls after a Barbenheimer-aided summer where crowds have flooded in.

Admissions for July — the month when Barbie and Oppenheimer were released on the same day — reached 17.6 million, the highest UK box office total since December 2019.

But while the films themselves will prove the real attraction to audiences, tickets priced as little as £3 offer a further incentive to head to your local cinema on Saturday, September 2.

Vue, Odeon, Cineworld, and Picturehouse are all among the chains that are participating in the promotion, as are the predominantly London-based Curzon, as well as independent cinemas.

To see which films are exactly on offer, visit

Here are a dozen of the best films on offer this week.


Blue Beetle (12A)

The DC film gives a first big screen outing to Jaime Reyes and his be-shelled alter-ego Blue Beetle. Angel Manuel Soto directs the first major superhero film to be set in a Latino community.

The Equaliser 3 (15)

Assassin Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is now living in Italy hoping to escape his bloody past but finds himself drawn back into the fray under local crime bosses. Antoine Fuqua, who directed Washington in Training Day, is behind the camera.

Well-reviewed dramas and comedies

Scrapper (12A)

A 12-year-old girl scratches a living on her own in Charlotte Regan’s London-set comedy-drama, and is happy with her independence until her estranged dad turns up. Lola Campbell plays the feisty Georgie, and Harris Dickinson, most recently seen in Triangle of Sadness, is her father, Jason.

Theater Camp (12A)

A comedy mockumentary from Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman that serves up a lot of laughs as an upstate New York theatre camp battles closure. An ensemble cast that includes Ben Platt and Ayo Edebiri as well as Gordon deliver a heartfelt ode to theatre.

Passages (18)

Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw, and Adèle Exarchopoulos all star in a love triangle drama that is themed around sexual exploration and desire. Independent filmmaker Ira Sachs directs, having previously made Love is Strange and Little Men.

Scary selections

The Dive (15)

Two sisters take a deep-sea plunge 28m below in a remote location when one of them is hit by a rock. The two must battle to survive with dangerously low oxygen levels and increasingly cold temperatures.

Cobweb (15)

Samuel Bodin’s horror has been scaring audiences for the past month. The premise is around an eight-year-old boy who is plagued by a mysterious noise from inside his bedroom wall.

Foreign language

L’Immensità (15)

Penélope Cruz stars as a fun-going mother in 1970s Rome who learns to deal with new realities as adult life catches up with her. Emanuele Crialese directs the drama that explores gender identity, abuse, and attitudes in society.

Lie With Me (15)

An author faces his past loves and regrets when he returns home to Cognac in Olivier Peyon’s drama. Guillaume de Tonquédec stars.

Afire (15)

An offering from Germany that blends comedy, drama, and romance. An aspiring writer (a theme is developing here…) plans to spend the summer working on his novel in a house off the Baltic Sea. But Leon’s plans are hit when more and more guests show up — and then a fire burns the forest around them.

And, of course…

Barbie (12A)

If you need another helping of Barbie Kenergy, Greta Gerwig’s colossal hit is still in cinemas, otherwise known as a mojo dojo casa house. Just remember to wear pink.

Oppenheimer (15)

And Barbie’s partner-in-crime turned out not to be Ken but J Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb, this summer. A second viewing is well worth it to catch all the character names!