The Effect of Covid-19 on Movie Theaters
The movie industry is one of the many fields that has been deeply affected by the COVID-19 virus. The necessity for increased safety measures has created changes in how movies are produced and released, leading to a sharp increase in streaming and the decline of movie theaters.
Movie theater attendance was already declining before the virus, while streaming services gained more popularity. This trend continued as many movies that were anticipating theater releases instead became available to rent on streaming platforms or had their release dates pushed back. “Streaming has gained in popularity. There are more subscribers than ever and more people are renting on those platforms,” film teacher Daniel Gonzalez said.
Both steaming services and movie theaters have pros and cons. “Streaming takes away from the shared experience of sitting in a darkened theater where everyone is committed to the film in a different way,” Gonzalez said.
On the other hand, streaming services can be a more convenient way to watch movies. “With streaming, you can pause or you can change your mind about what you want to watch, which are things that go away when you buy a ticket at a theater,” said Gonzalez.
However, some films have continued with theater releases since many movie theaters have tried to stay open while following the guidelines of social distancing and required masks. “I went and saw two movies at theaters,” senior Marissa Parcell said. “It wasn’t crowded at all, so every other group was far away from ours and everyone was wearing masks, but other than that it felt pretty much the same.”
In an attempt to create more business, some theaters have also given customers the option to rent out an entire theater for a private viewing party. These options typically start out at $99 and allow for up to twenty guests. “I had a friend rent out a theater for his birthday to watch a movie,” said Gonzalez. “That’s something you can try to do safely to see a movie in the theater.”
The virus has also affected the production of movies. There are more restrictions in how films can be made. “It’s harder to film crowd scenes, the cast and crew have to be in bubbles, there are measures to limit interactions, certain locations are off limits” said Gonzalez. “It makes it a lot more complicated, time consuming, and expensive to make a movie.”
It is unclear when (or if) the movie industry will ever return to normal. “It will probably be a while before theaters can be at maximum capacity again,” said Parcell. It’s possible that movie theaters might experience more business as the weather gets colder. “I feel like now that it’s getting to be winter, there’s not as many things you can do outside,” said Parcell. “I think movie theaters are a good option as long as you’re being safe.”
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