Will Movie Theaters Return to its old glory?

Chonte Crewsaw, Student

During this pandemic, the entertainment industry has been bludgeoned in terms of gross income.  Movie theaters used to be a place that individuals and groups alike would go in order to enjoy a cinematic event on the “Big Screen”.  When promising movies were set to come to a theater near you, oftentimes these venues would have a midnight release for those who are dying to see this film.  

In March of 2020, the world was hit by a devastating pandemic we now know as covid-19 that would immediately change life as we knew it.  Worldwide lockdowns and quarantines were enforced and unless you were a front line employee, it was in our best interest to stay inside or at least social distance ourselves from others for safety.  

Job loss was at an all time high, people were either forced to work from home or were released from job positions both short term and permanantly.  Due to the stay home orders, entertainment like sports, concert events, and movies were all but on hold until something could be figured out. 

 Movies such as Marvel’s “Black Widow”, DC comics “Wonder Woman 1984”, and “No Time to Die” a James Bond movie were all pushed off of there March 2020 release dates until further notice because people simply were not allowed to enter these movie theaters in order to view these movies.  Would there ever be hope again for this return?

Hope showed up in the form of a new Christopher Nolan film named “Tenet”.  With a deep cast and overwhelming budget, “Tenet” debuted in theaters on August 12, 2020.  I had the opportunity to see the movie a week after its release in a local theater (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema) and I loved the movie but the movie experience was quite different.  Only ten people were allowed in each theater room at a time which limited the building to 80 customers max at any given time.  

It was reported that between the top three movie theater chains (AMC, Cinemark, Marcus Corporation) there was over $1 billion in losses over the previous quarters.  Even with the worldwide release of “Tenet”, movie theaters are still losing money and having to make special ticket bundles and the nostalgia of rereleased classics have begun to lessen the blow done by covid-19.  

Outside of the battle with covid-19, movie theaters are fighting the battle against streaming services.  To give some context into this battle, while movie theaters are hemorrhaging, Netflix streaming services had generated over $6 billion dollars which far exceeded its previous years earnings.  Given how this pandemic has changed everyone’s lives, people are staying home more often for risk prevention and safety which means less money is being spent on public entertainment.  

To combat streaming services, companies like AMC have begun doing private screenings where people can come with their own large group and view a movie of their choice.  By privatizing theater rooms, it gives the ability to sell group tickets at different prices and it also boosts attendance.  In order to stay alive for good and fight off bankruptcy, these theaters need a serious revenue boost and soon or it may end up being too late.