Covid-19 has been at the center of every aspect of human life, such as politics, education, and employment. Perhaps one of the most surprising effects of the reach of Covid-19 is the toll it has taken on the movie theater and cinema industry.
Since 2002, studies have shown that the movie theater attendance on average has declined over the following years. In order to curb this declining trend, big theater industries like AMC Theaters has worked to improve the movie-watching experience by adding comfortable lounge seating, mobile seat picking selections, and many other factors to improve the experience. Although these factors have been set into place, attendance was still declining, most likely due to streaming platforms taking over the younger generations’ source of consumption. Some of the biggest film studies have also shown a trend of releasing fewer movies to the theaters than they had in previous years, which has also affected the declining revenue for the movie theater industries.
Due to the already declining movie theater industry, Covid-19 has not helped to bring more people to the cinema – quite the opposite actually. As people began to self-isolate and quarantine due to the outbreak of the virus, major movie companies shut down their theaters for the time being. On March 17, AMC Studies shut down its 1,200 movie theaters from six to twelve weeks. Releases for highly anticipated movies have also become delayed or some movies have been released through TV on demand. Over 41,000 movie theater screens are shut down due to the virus.
Streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney +, Hulu, etc. were already growing as some of the biggest entertainment sources for the younger generations, but Covid-19 has dramatically increased the platform’s success; thus, making greater competition for the traditional cinema industry.
The fate of the traditional cinema industry is currently unknown, but it does not seem to be looking up.
One example was the success of Trolls World Tour, a movie intended for big box office success but instead released directly to viewers at home after COVID 19 regulations shut down movie theatres. Forbes reported that “Trolls: World Tour joined fellow Universal newbies, The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma as “you can rent this movie for 48 hours for the not-so-low price of $20” experiments.” and the end profits totaled $100 million in the first three weeks. The success caused a very public rift between AMC and Universal Movie Studios.
The Wall Street Journal reported that
“In three weeks of digital release, ‘Trolls’ sequel has made more money for Universal Pictures than original did during five months in theaters.”
Perhaps, once the virus ends, people will begin to go back to the movie theaters in order to experience that old feeling of what normalcy was before the tolls of the virus. While Friday, May 15th will start the yellow phase of COVID life, movie theatre chains like Cinemark are looking ahead at July 1 for an opening date around Pittsburgh.
It is unlikely that the industry will ever fully go back to what it was due to popular streaming platforms and the ever-changing sphere of technology and entertainment resources. But, especially if you have your driver’s license, you might even want to try out a drive-in movie in Moon, about 20 minutes from the high school.