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Will Movie Theaters Survive After the Pandemic?

Marion Charatan

Posted on December 28, 2020 12:37

3 users

That's the million dollar question — Ron Howard and Tom Hanks say yes!

Going to the movies was a guilty pleasure for me at least a couple of times a month. I like the Crest Theater in North Seattle: it's an old school movie house with tickets for $4 to see fairly current films and thoughtful foreign productions — the best deal in town. And the popcorn was always so tasty and fresh. Every time I went in, I enjoyed perusing black and white photos of celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean that grace the hallway. There was always something compelling to see and it was a great distraction if I didn't have anything going on or wanted to destress after work. But the theater's been closed since March. Due to COVID 19, many theaters have been closed. In the Seattle area, some opened for a time, but reclosed when COVID-19 infection rates and deaths increased — bad news for movie lovers who enjoy a day or night out.

Moviegoers bring staggering income to the economy. The Los Angeles Times reported in August that AMC Theater's revenue was down nearly 100 percent and the company lost a massive $561 million dollars — and that was just for one quarter. AMC is the largest cinema operator in the world. Losses have continued to grow in the following fiscal quarters. 

Depending on where you live, some movie houses allow you in with a limited occupancy stipulation, often 25-percent of the usual number of guests accommodated. Here in Seattle, Governor Inslee closed theaters again in response to the surge in COVID cases and deaths after Thanksgiving. 

AMC's Chief Executive Officer Adam Aron stated he believes that even if attendance is a quarter of what it had been, that is enough patrons to make it viable to stay open.

Of course, viewing habits have changed. I stream like crazy now and am watching more movies than I ever did pre-pandemic. That's because I'm home a lot more, like so many others, and use film as a much-needed distraction because nothing is open. You can't go to a restaurant, show, concert — the list goes on. Filmmakers make money now by having you purchase movies via streaming services. 

I wonder if the amount of people going to movie theaters will get back to its pre-pandemic level. I have my doubts, but I'm no expert. Tom Hanks thinks it will — and he obviously knows a lot more about about film than I do. Hanks said, in a Chicago Tribune interview, that "Big event motion pictures are going to rule the day at the cinemas." The actor implied that franchises like the Marvel Universe are tailor-made for the big screen and that streaming was bound to become another viable viewing option no matter what the circumstances. Likewise, director Ron Howard is positive about the future of theaters. I certainly hope they are right. I miss the theater — and I just can't get into drive-in movies. There's nothing quite like the unique movie house experience. 

Marion Charatan

Posted on December 28, 2020 12:37

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Source: Bay News 9

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