Opinion: Pandemic might kill off movie theaters


Movie theatres likely to struggle if not fail to get business back up.

Kevin Hutchinson, Staff Writer

After being shuttered for months and seeing their movies released on streaming services, movie theaters have entered a decline from which they likely will never emerge.

The humble movie theater, long a staple of Main Streets across the country, has been a steadfast ally of the American everyman since the 1920s. For decades, movie fans have laughed, cried, and gnawed on popcorn slathered in warmed canola oil, squinting anxiously at the comfortable darkness surrounding a looming screen. Now, would-be moviegoers sink into stained couches at home, thumbing through Netflix in search of a half-baked rom com based on a hormonally charged Wattpad novel. 

Unfortunately, several movies that were slated for release this year were shown exclusively by streaming services, whereas numerous others were never released at all. With new streaming services cropping up by the day, millions of consumers are finding the convenience — and, amid the pandemic, the sensation of safety — provided by these services to be irresistible. 

Many don’t care about the plight of movie theaters, but movie fans everywhere should be gravely concerned. 

The death of the movie theater would mean the end of an era, as we would bid farewell to countless Saturday nights smothered in canola oil and slushes that warrant three trips to the bathroom. 

After the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, recluses rendered neurotic by 2020 will remain holed up, indulging in entertainment from the comfort of home; if movie theaters disappear, many a weekend will be spent in despair as couples thumb through Disney Plus in search of the latest Marvel movie or godforsaken live-action Disney remake. 

Additionally, the unity provided by the movie theater, the companionship formed among moviegoers on the sinking Titanic or in the jungles around Jurassic Park, will be destroyed. Meanwhile, the anti-social behavior defining Millennials and Gen Zers will be cemented. 

So when coronavirus restrictions are eased, please visit a movie theater. Pay obscene prices for canola-oiled popcorn and slushes that slip quickly through the digestive system. Indulge in an atmosphere, an experience, which might well leave us. If the silver screen must die, take action to ensure that it dies with dignity.