Movie Theatres: Still Relevant or Just a Remnant of the Past?

Joshua Feldman, Reporting Journalist

As a long time fan of film, going to the movie theatre has been part of my life for many years. For a while, I used to live right around the corner from a movie theatre. Anytime a new movie would come out, I would go to the movie theatre to see it. In fact, it became almost tradition for me to go and see a movie at least once or twice a week.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the fate of movie theatres was left in a very uncertain place.

It used to be that when movies were released, you went to the movie theatres to see them, but now with movie theatres closed, many distributors were scrambling to figure out what to do with all the movies that were supposed to be released. Consumers such as myself were worried as well as to how we would see new movies. The answer seemed as though it would be that these films would just be delayed until the pandemic had ended, but as time went on and the pandemic was no closer to the end, the bright decision was made to put them on demand. Suddenly an option like never before had appeared. You could now watch almost all of the latest movies from the comfort of your couch!

While the big blockbuster movies such as Tenet or any of the Marvel films would still be delayed until movie theatres reopened, most movies would just go straight to on demand. Even though some may have considered the price a little steep at 20 dollars compared to a 10-15 dollar movie ticket, it was a small price to pay in order to see the latest films. All of sudden the urge for movie theatres to reopen started to subside. There was just no need to go anymore. It now wasn’t the only option when it came to watching new movies.

Then, on August 21st, movie theatres started to reopen. The only problem was that nobody wanted to go. Not only is this something I noticed amongst my friends, but a claim supported by data as well. A poll of 16,000 moviegoers from Atom Tickets showed that only 40% of respondents would be returning to movie theatres immediately (​ nce-is-in-question.html​ ).

So what changed?

Well for starters many people just didn’t feel safe going to movie theatres. A survey conducted by Morning Consultant showed that only around 17% of consumers felt comfortable going to the movies ( s-in-question.html​ ). Another contributing factor is simply that this new on-demand option provided people with another way to watch the latest films outside of the theatre and quite frankly many liked it, maybe even more than watching them in the theatres. Even someone such as myself whose loved going to movie theatres for years isn’t overly eager to go.

This all poses one very large question: Is this the end for movie theatres? If I had to be honest, I would say no, but I don’t think it will ever be the same experience it used to be. Movies on demand aren’t going anywhere. They have proven to make as much money if not more than when they were released in theatres and all around have received positive reception. While this new option means that most likely people will forego movie theatres for smaller releases they can get on demand, the big blockbusters will always draw people to the theatre. I think that alone will keep movie theatres in the public eye for many years to come.