By Abby Van Duyn, ’24
Already struggling with rising prices and competition from home entertainment options, the movie theater industry has been hit hard due to COVID-19. In response to the pandemic, theaters across the country have been mandated since March to severely restrict attendance or completely shut down under emergency powers granted to each state. This has resulted in a myriad of inconsistent regulations imposed on the industry, which – along with the advancing technology allowing streaming services at home – are proving extremely challenging. At this point, patrons are wondering if theaters will survive or become a relic of the past. Will the COVID-19 pandemic prove to be the “straw that broke” the theater industry’s back? According to marketplace.org, AMC theaters’ revenue is down 90 percent this year due to the pandemic. Many smaller theaters, such as the Regan Theaters, have had to completely shut down.
Hanover High School students had mixed opinions on the future of movie theaters.
“I think movie theaters will re open and be very popular again because everyone wants to leave their houses,” said sophomore Maeve Sullivan.
Freshman Izzy MacLellan agreed. “I think the theaters won’t have the same amount of fans as they used to,” she said, “but there are definitely some people who miss going to the theaters to see movies.”
Others are not so optimistic.
“Traditional movie theaters are a doomed business model,” said Grace Van Duyn, a junior. “The pandemic along with the rise of streaming services will render them obsolete.”
“I think that people have gotten used to watching newly released movies in their pajamas and in their comfort of their own home and won’t be rushing back to the theaters,” said Sam Curtis, a freshman.
It is possible that movie theaters – losing popularity against Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services even before the pandemic – were already bound for extinction. Movie theaters were created without all the technology we have today. There is a lot more freedom in watching a streaming service like Netflix because you can choose the time, place, and occasion that you watch it. And more services are producing original movies that are just as good as what we used to find in the theaters.
Journalist Charlie Osborne from zdnet.com believes that people will be more inclined to watch from their own homes, forcing more movies to be released straight to streaming or to theaters and streaming at the same time. “I resent having to wait weeks or months if I don’t want to take a trip and pay extra to sit in a theater to watch ’em,” he said.
Johnny Oleksinski of the New York Post, though, believes that theaters will not decrease in popularity despite the pandemic. “Audiences, you may recall, had plenty of at-home options before the pandemic and still chose to go to the movies instead,” he said. “They will again.”
For some people, they may never enter a theater again. Movie theaters can be very fun to go to, and a perfect activity to do with friends are family. But, this fun can be easily outweighed by the appeal of watching shows and movies from your home.