Gaius Bolling of Joblo makes a good point when alluding to the fact that movie theaters aren’t likely to go out of business entirely and certainly not overnight, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of people, 70% apparently, would rather stay home and pay $19.99 to entertain the family than spend nearly the same price on one ticket only to get gouged at the concession stands shortly after. It’s very true that a person doesn’t absolutely have to visit the concessions stand and many have found ways around it that are less than noble but get the job done all the same. It’s also a very solid truth that going to the movies is a treat and a luxury that people tend to enjoy since it gets them out of the house, it sits them down outside their comfort zone and it sucks them into a movie that they might not be able to enjoy at home for various reasons. But despite the distractions that occur at home there’s still a lot to be said about already being home when the movie is over and not having to brave the parking lot jam that might occur when trying to leave, or the press of bodies that generally gather as people make their way out of the theater to start with. That’s one of the biggest concerns at the moment after all, the crowds of people that are being seen as unsafe at this time and are likely to unnerve a lot of folks that don’t want to be around that many people after being stuck in quarantine for so long. But really, the price and the convenience of PVOD is definitely a big bonus for staying at home to watch a movie.
Movie theaters have been a luxury ever since they were created and have never really been essential no matter who would argue the point. They’re basically big spaces in which people congregate to watch whatever feature one of Hollywood’s many directors has decided to roll out for the amusement of the audience, without their need for approval. In a sense a drive-in is a little nicer since it affords a person more space and they can relax in the comfort of their own vehicle, and depending on the location they might be able to get away with bringing their own snacks. But a regular indoor movie theater, as nice as they’ve become over the years, are likely to be seen as less than desirable for a while since the coronavirus has made it clear that congregating in big groups is going to send some folks into panic attacks while other folks will disregard any warnings and do as they please. None of this is good for theaters since like any other business a big part of their job is to see to the comfort and safety of their guests, and packing people into a crowded theater at this point is not keeping them safe in the eyes of many. Even if the theaters were to sell only so many seats it feels likely that the price would rise and the luxury of attending a movie would only increase through ticket sales and concessions since the theater has to make enough to pay its employees, take care of upkeep, pay off the movie studios, and keep the lights on. Brad Adgate of Forbes had more to offer on this point. The luxury of the theater at some point becomes kind of dulled by the thought of having to pay around $20 for a small bag of popcorn. Much as that sounds like griping the fact remains that watching movies from home has netted those studios that have opted to go this route a healthy sum and it’s saved a lot of people more than a few dollars.
Several theaters are still planning to open soon, but as of now the idea of whether they’re going to experience the same influx of guests is leaning heavily into the ‘no’ column since too many people are still leery of the coronavirus and don’t want to rock the boat when it feels as though it’s still in a precarious position. People are attempting to get back to life as it was before the virus hit, but likely as not that won’t happen since we now know a little better that gathering in close, confined spaces really isn’t as ideal as it used to be. Geoff Herbert of Syracuse has something else to say about this. The allure of the theater is still there for some, but for others it’s going to take something monumental to get them to set foot back inside, especially if more and more studios become convinced that they can still make a profit by streaming their new movies directly into peoples’ homes. Things aren’t about to change, they’ve already changed, and if theaters are still around in the next few years it might be a bit of a surprise.