Remember watching Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in the movie theater last December? The film was the most anticipated Star Wars movie since 1980 when The Empire Strikes Back premiered. Not only was it the final movie of the entire Star Wars trilogy, but the world also discovered the fates of Darth Vader’s grandson, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, and the last of the Jedi Rey Skywalker. The best part about going to the movies is the feeling of excitement and anticipation you get while comfortably watching previews from a padded recliner chair, in the middle of a crowded movie theater, surrounded by Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and snacking on popcorn and candy with your friends and family.
Last year Americans spent an average of $9.37 per person on movie tickets alone. Add on popcorn and candy and the cost of seeing a movie triples. The movie theater industry topped $11.4 billion in sales last year that include tickets, food, and drinks. This year, however, after the coronavirus quickly began to spread in countries all over the world, a mandatory quarantine for Americans was issued early in March. To help stop the spread of the virus, most entertainment venues including stadiums and movie theaters were forced to close and America lost one of its favorite pastimes.
On March 16th, 2020, The Hollywood Reporter posted an article about the closing of all AMC, Cinemark, and Regal movie theaters across the country due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Hollywood news source described the act of shutting down movie theaters as “unprecedented” and speculated that the closure would last six to twelve weeks. Eight months later and movie theaters are still closed with no sign of a return any time soon after reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue losses.
Like so many other venues of live entertainment, movie theaters are facing a threat of disappearing for months or even years. While the world stays confined to their homes during quarantine, more people are investing in streaming services to view movies. Netflix will release over 100 feature films over the course of the year, and other streaming services like Amazon Prime have premiered original films as well. Marvel did not release any films this year, however, hoping that next year will aid in their chances of hitting the box office big.
Another option for movie entertainment that is making a comeback is the drive-in theater. Drive-in theaters have had better success because cars can be situated at a safe distance and people can remain in their cars to safely enjoy the movie. Walmart has not only turned 160 of its store location parking lots into temporary pop-up drive-ins, but they are also offering movies for free with advance ticket requests. The only caveat is that the movies played are re-releases, so there won’t be any new movie premiers.
The world does not need to fear that movie theaters will be gone forever. After a vaccine is created and control over the virus is obtained, people all over the world will flock back to one of their favorite forms of entertainment. Films like Avatar 2 and any new marvel movie will bring people back in swarms to the movies, especially during the summer months, because that what Americans love to do. Hopefully, a vaccine can be made and distributed soon and then the entertainment economy can jump start a trend in other economic areas of the country.