Could Covid-19 Be the End to Movie Theaters?

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Will Coronavirus be the end of the movie theater industry?

Noele Lehnhoff, Writer

As the first school year with covid-19 begins, there are many things that students and non-students alike are starting to accept as the new normal. Wearing masks, social distancing, and even quarentening are all habits and requirements that the world is beginning to adjust to. However, there is one unexpected, and apparently disregarded, adjustment that could have to take place in the possibly near future. The adjustment in question is the complete and utter downfall and obliteration of the beloved movie theater industry.

Several films, including “Mission: Impossible: 7”, “Fast & Furious 9”, and the live-action remake of “Mulan” have pushed back their release or production dates, some of them even by almost a year, due to the pandemic. The lack of content for the movie theaters to play for their audience is an obvious struggle, but of course the main issue is the pandemic itself. With little knowledge on the disease and how it spreads, the idea of being in a closed off room with hundreds of strangers separated by not even a foot is probably not the most appealing, or the smartest, idea. The coronavirus is a threat to all things communal, which begs the question; how will other forms of public entertainment faire?

Movie theaters are not the only form of public, communal entertainment. Circuses, carnivals, concerts, sports games, you name it, covid will cancel it. If public safety was at the front of the nation’s mind, all of these cherished pastimes would be completely shut down. However, these forms of entertainment have been adored for centuries, and the idea of removing them from our society completely is just too hard to bear. In fact, the popularity of each of these forms of entertainment is exactly why there should be no doubt that they will remain.

Even though other forms of public entertainment are secured with their popularity, Movie theaters do not have that luxury. With the rise of the virtual movie watching experience through platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and more, many people have decided to stick with that easier, and much more affordable, film watching experience. Ticket sales dropped by 21% between 2002-2017, before the coronavirus even broke out, and the fact that ticket prices have rocketed by more than 53% over the past couple decades is not doing them any favors. With movie theaters already struggling before the pandemic, how will the industry fare in the upcoming years?

Although the future of movie theaters seems very pessimistic, there is evidence that not all hope is lost. There are still many people who enjoy the movie theater experience, as a 2018 Art House Convergence survey, questioning about 22,500 people, it was discovered that 65% of them said that visiting their local art house theater greatly improved their mental state and overall joy in life. Adding on to the good news, it was rumored that Amazon, a big streaming platform, was interested in purchasing AMC, the biggest movie theater chain in the United States. If true, these speculations could become a reality in which the very movie streaming companies that are stealing the limelight from theaters could breathe new life into them.

Whether or not movie theaters are going to rise or continue to fall, it is probable that it will at least be some time before they go extinct. They are a classic experience that have the hearts of not only everyone in the U.S., but all people across the globe. If we can survive the craziest year of our lives, then our beloved movie theaters can too.

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