The Future of Movie Theaters Around the World


Courtesy of IndieWire

The Future of Movie Theaters Around the World

Steven Makino Staff Writer

After nearly a six month long hiatus, movie theaters are finally starting to open their doors all across the country and as a major movie buff, I couldn’t be happier. Just last week, I went to see “Unhinged” and “Tenet” (both great films) in IMAX, and it was really refreshing being able to see movies on the big screen once again. As I came back to my dorm, however, I began to think more deeply about the dire circumstances that movie theaters around the world are facing and what the future may hold in store for them in the coming months. 

For starters, while the U.S. still grapples with the “new norm” COVID-19 has presented, many restrictions will likely stick around for the foreseeable future, including capacity limits for indoor activities. For the Philadelphia area, no more than 25 people can be in a single screening room regardless of the theater’s size which, while better than no business at all, is a devastating blow in terms of profit margins for these companies. The thought that scares me is that even the most notable theater chains, such as AMC, will feel the drastic financial impact in the coming weeks with hardly anything they can do to solve this issue. 

Not only this, but many movies that were scheduled to release this year have been delayed either due to filmmaking difficulties or active COVID-19 cases on set, an example being the new Batman movie having to halt production for a few weeks due to star Robert Pattinson testing positive for the virus. 

Also, some companies want to hold off on releasing their upcoming projects, as this year’s box office totals will not be financially accurate due to the COVID-19 restrictions. This is indeed a reasonable course of action to take, as with the limited capacity in theaters, a movie that would have originally made $1 billion could potentially have its earnings reduced to half or even more in some drastic cases. 

There’s one immense obstacle that was a problem for theaters even before the pandemic: the rise of streaming services. 

Netflix has proven to be incredibly popular, which has given rise to many other competing streaming services, such as Disney+, Peacock, Hulu, etc. With the admittedly appealing deal of $12 a month (around the same price as a movie theater ticket) for access to thousands of TV shows and movies from the comfort of your home, it’s incredibly difficult to resist purchasing a subscription. 

While most of this article has been highlighting the negative aspects theaters face, I believe that the movie theater industry will overcome this pandemic, albeit not unscathed. Going to the movies with friends or family, the anticipation leading to the movie, enjoying trailers for films soon to come, being surrounded by people  just as eager as you to watch the movie and making it an experience are things that Netflix or even Disney can never truly replicate through their services. Having been an employee at my local movie theater, I would usually encounter customers of all ages who were filled with genuine excitement at the prospect of seeing a movie. On another positive note, I noticed that drive-in movie theaters have seen a surge of popularity this summer, which further shows that there are people who truly appreciate the idea of going out to see a movie rather than merely watching it from home. Coming from personal experience, watching even the best of movies at home, such as “Uncut Gems,” just doesn’t create that same level of overall enthusiasm. While the road ahead may seem bleak for theaters, as long as there are those who value the one of a kind cinema experience, movie theaters will always have a place in today’s world.