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  • Writer's pictureZoe Schuldrenfrei

The COVID Effect on Movie Theaters

Collective laughter and tears have been absent from movie theaters this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For too long, we have not witnessed strangers all watching a movie together while snacking on popcorn. At some point, nearly all of us have gone to the movie theater to watch a new movie or to rewatch one of our favorites. Before COVID-19 hit, we all made the effort to go to the theater, and for the most part it was worth it. We were able to go out with our friends, family, or loved ones.

The movie theater “experience” was something we didn’t realize we had until we lost it; it was fun to be able to get out of the house and fill our time. Besides being with other people, we were able to watch it on a huge screen with a huge surround sound system as opposed to our computers, T.Vs, or home theaters. However, the future of movie theaters is still uncertain. What is certain, is that we all miss the commercial right before the movie starts while they fill up the soda glass with ice and then Coca-Cola.

Movies and shows have been released straight onto viewing platforms such as Netflix, HBO Max, and Hulu instead of debuting on the big screens at the cinema. These streaming sites are exclusively releasing their own content on their own platforms. This arrangement benefits the streaming services as they don’t have to split their profits with the theaters.

We also have to take into account that many movie theaters won’t survive the pandemic. According to statistics taken from CNBC; AMC’s stock is down 32% since the start of the year, Cinemark lost around 70% of its value, Marcus Theaters is down 75% and IMAX fell to 40%. Overall, the sell-off has wiped out nearly $2.7 billion for these stocks since January. As we viewers are able to watch directly from our homes, on our phones, tablets, computers or televisions, we don’t necessarily need movie theaters, even if they offer a unique and even superior experience.

Now we are entering a stage in the pandemic where people are getting vaccinated and are starting to feel more confident about leaving their houses for longer periods of time. Cinemas will be able to start opening up for small groups as people are beginning to feel assured they won't be infected with Covid-19 if they do go to the movies. Many blockbusters set to premiere in 2020 were moved to 2021 or 2022. So, if movie theaters do survive up until then, they will hopefully rebound, and people will continue to go to the theaters like they always have.

“Will it be worth schlepping to the cinema for a movie that may not meet our expectations since we’ve received quality content from these streaming services?”

This raises the question “Will it be worth schlepping to the cinema for a movie that may not meet our expectations since we’ve received quality content from these streaming services?” Yet, we’ve always made this gamble while venturing to the movies. Recently Godzilla vs. Kong premiered, and many people went to watch it in the theater. People were shocked that others were laughing, munching, overall having a good time with each other before the movie started. It's been so long since we’ve actually seen so many people interacting with each other. Some movies to look forward to includeWonder Woman 1984, the release date of which moved from October to December, and Black Widow, one of Disney’s Marvel films, the release date of which shifted from November to May 2021.

Being at home for this whole year has shown us how much we miss the tradition of going to the movies or how much we do not. The cinemas await our verdict!


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