Are movie theaters dying?


Carley Dollins

Senior Payton Berger looks at HBO Max’s selection of new movies.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of going to the movies. The smell of popcorn and nachos throughout the air and the dim lights set the mood for a perfect movie viewing. The buzz of excitement is evident before the movie starts, but sadly, this experience may be gone soon. 

2020 has taken a lot from all of us, but the movie industry has been hit hard. Movie theaters rely on social gatherings to make money, but following COVID restrictions makes this extremely difficult. Regardless of extra cleaning, staggered movie times, and social distancing, many people simply aren’t comfortable attending movie theaters right now. 

Social distancing aside, they’re also facing major competition against streaming services such as Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, and Hulu. Streaming numbers are rising, and it’s easily accessible. Most movies are being sent straight to these services or even Amazon Prime with a fee to purchase or rent the movie. Many people would rather rent a new release and enjoy it in the safety of their own home than go out in public to enjoy a movie.

For example, Warner Media plans to simultaneously release movies on its streaming service HBO Max and in theaters. Warner Media claims that this is just a temporary response due to COVID, but many movie theaters think it could be a permanent change. Companies releasing their movies on streaming services is a major threat to the entire movie theater industry. 

The meaning of watching a movie has changed, and it might be forever.  In the past, the major appeal of watching movies was the environment of the movie theater. Being surrounded by strangers and all watching a film for the first time time is a major part of the appeal. Middle and upper class people are now able to almost replicate this experience in their own homes.

However, it’ll be hard for people to get used to this new reality. Many movie theaters and avid movie watchers are holding on to the hope that things will return to normal. However, COVID has proved to be tough, and it’s lasted longer than many people ever thought it would. Even with vaccines going out, many people might not want to risk going to the movie theater right now. 

As a movie lover myself, I can only hope that movie theaters survive this pandemic and return to normal. I miss movies on the big screen so much, and I’m hopeful I get to experience it properly soon.