The movie industry has seen massive change over time, from black and white to color, from color to CGI, the industry has boomed into a massive business. In this massive growth period, there have been some advancements that are more of a double edged sword. Movie streaming companies like Netflix, Disney plus, HBO Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have made it available to access movies from home with the touch of a button. But is this really the advancement we think it is?
The movie theater business has been on a downward crawl since streaming services became so popular. Why pay more to go out and buy food and a movie when you can make a bowl of popcorn at home and buy the movie on your TV and avoid people all together? It takes the pressure off of making it there on time, which isn’t an easy feat if you’re trying to corral children. Not to mention concession prices are RIDICULOUSLY high, a measly water is five dollars. (Regal Concession Prices) That’s where movie theaters make a large percentage of their revenue, the concessions. This overall hassle to watch a movie has pushed the shift to streaming services instead, as well as the pandemic which briefly had movie theaters shut down. You have to wonder if it’s really worth holding on to this relic of the past?
Whenever you visit the theaters nowadays, you get a meager mix of maybe two or three couples, a single family (if any) and possibly a group of friends. (Gathered from personal experience). Sales seem low, yet the theaters are still up and running. A shadow of itself before the ‘Rona, when movies like Endgame had the theaters packed for days and were selling out of seats for showtime’s up to 2 AM. Yet the business still persists, and I suspect the inherent charm of the theaters will keep them alive a while longer- despite it seeming to be on the decline. The Nation Newspaper offers possible reasoning for that, “For media giants like Warner Media, Covid-19 is a wonderful alibi. It allows them to disguise their murder of the moviegoing experience as death by natural causes. It’s entirely possible that the long-term project of companies like Disney and Warner Media is to drive independent movie chains out of business and then set up their own theater chains, so they won’t have to split the profit. In such a scenario, moviegoing would be even more dominated by a handful of media giants.” Much of our modern world is owned by mega-corporations that give us an illusion of choice in our society, and it looks like movie theaters are the next on their agenda to conquer.
However, despite the allure of streaming services making movies easy, the charm of the theaters may outlast it still. New York Times critic Manohla Dargis explains the magic of the theaters, “And while you can watch them sitting alone on your couch (I regularly do although usually with a few cats), there is something qualitatively different about going to a designated space and sitting, and staying, in the enveloping dark with a lot of people you don’t know and maybe some you do. It is an exquisite, human thing to sit with all those other souls, to be alone with others.” A poet’s persuasion, describes the allure of human experience in the form of theaters. It doesn’t have to be a date, or a group of friends, or family- it’s enough to just go by yourself and be immersed in the experience. After all, streaming a movie at home, even if you have a large screen TV and surround sound, can’t compare to the grandeur of a theater. At home there is still distraction and boredom, but the theaters grab your attention and hold it tight. In this day and age, the average attention span is about 8 seconds, or shorter than a goldfish due to the modernized and digitized lifestyle that has become prevalent. So something that can completely hold our attention like watching a movie at the theaters is hard to come by.
Overall, the butchered streaming service version of film watching cannot compare to the extravagance of the movies. The experience we get from the theaters is something that has lasted over a century, (Movie theaters were invented in 1905) and there’s no reason why we should let that go now.