Is it too soon to say goodbye to movie theaters?

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Many individuals have memories of going to a movie theater at some point in their life and most likely grew up going to the theater whenever the newest blockbuster hit was released. 

It was something that could get people out of the house while still being able to relax, and it was the perfect way to enjoy a movie someone had been waiting to see for months. 

Movie theaters created traditions, celebrated birthdays and special occasions, gave opportunities for awkward first dates and allowed all cinema lovers to come together in one comfortable setting to watch movies, distraction free. 

However, like most things, COVID-19 changed all of this and the consequences could be permanent.

Movie theaters like AMC, Megaplex and Cinemark were one of the first things to shut down nationwide when the pandemic first struck. Months later, when they were finally able to reopen, it was already clear that their sales would be down.

So, what is the future of movie theaters, post-pandemic? 

Fortunately for the industry, some people still get excited about going to see a movie.

“I would much rather go to a movie theater to see a new movie and I always will,” USU student Porter King said. “There is something about it that just makes the movie, the experience and the time, all worth it.”

Jeff Whipple, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Megaplex Theaters, told the Statesman that, since the 1900’s, movie theaters have survived and thrived through countless other challenges including wars, competition and health crises.

So, he asks, why wouldn’t they be able to overcome this?

Whipple knows that customers are also hopeful. 

“We’ve heard wonderful messages from countless guests showing appreciation for Megaplex reopening and bringing back the magic of movies,” he said. 

According to Forbes Magazine, cinema isn’t dying, it’s only evolving as everything does with time. 

“Those looking to drive a wooden stake into cinema love to trot out attendance figures which show that movie-going in North America has fallen from 1.58 billion in 2002 to 1.24 billion in 2019,” the article states. “What they fail to mention is that 1.24 billion is actually higher than years like 1995 at 1.22 billion and 1980 at 1.02 billion.” 

Not everyone agrees.

According to an article from The Nation, “Movie Theaters Aren’t Dying – They’re Being Murdered.” And not only murdered from the pandemic, but murdered by the convenience of streaming services. 

Jason Blum, founder of Blumhouse Productions, a production studio known for their scary movies, recently told CNBC that this has been a problem for some time now, COVID-19 just sped up the process. 

Back in December 2020, Warner Bros. also announced that their upcoming films including The Suicide Squad, The Devil Made Me Do It and The Matrix 4, would be released simultaneously on HBO Max for 30 days and in theaters on the same day, which gives people an option.

Disney+ has also recently announced that their upcoming movies, “Cruella” and “Black Widow” will both be released in theaters and on Disney+ on May 28. 

Although the odds appear to be going against the conventional cinema that so many know and love, there may still be hope for survival. 

In the same interview with CNBC, Blum also said, “I don’t think movie theaters are going anywhere and I think that people are going to run back to the movie theaters when we can, I know I am. But I think what we see in theaters, how we see it, how long things play in theaters, I think all that’s definitely going to change.”

His suggestion was what he calls a “theatrical window” where movie theaters shorten the length of time that they play each movie; that way the movies could be played exclusively in theaters for a minimum of three weeks before being released in everyone’s homes.

Blum believes this is the only hope of keeping cinema alive while still being able to compete with streaming. He hopes that other movie studios can get on board with this idea.

This idea alone shows that it’s too soon to say goodbye to theaters. There is still hope for the future of the beloved cinema.




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