“It’s a wrap” for movie theaters



As streaming services begin to become more popular than movie theaters, many wonder about what the future of films will hold. https://unsplash.com/license

Katherine Manatos

It’s time to say our final goodbyes to old leather recliner seats, oily, buttered popcorn and overpriced candy, as movie theaters are closer than ever to closing for good. 

In the past five years, theaters have experienced a jarring decline in attendance and profits due to the rise in streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. Streaming services give people the ability to watch from the comforts of their own homes, making them a popular choice. Business Insider claimed that there was a 3.5% drop in attendance in theaters from 2015-2016 and Indiewire states that in 2019, the box office was down 9% from 2018. 

While the numbers seem bleak, there are still some believers that think this is just a temporary slump for the theater industry. 

Charles Rivkin, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, quoted Sterling Bagby, the late co-founder of B&B Theatres, stating, “Everyone has a kitchen, but everyone still goes out to eat.” 

Many others also believe that the experience of attending a movie is enough to keep the theaters alive. Indiewire explains that in a 2018 Art House Convergence survey of approximately 22,500 moviegoers, 65% of those asked considered their local art house theater valuable to their overall quality of life. 

To some, theaters are just plans when there’s nothing else to do, but others live for the experience. Senior Meg Ellis of Freehold feels the latter. 

Nothing beats having that shared moment with everyone else in the theater during a plot twist or even a really bad ending,” Ellis said. “It’s pretty surreal.” 

While some are wondering how theaters are going to recover, others are thinking ahead to the next step of the theater decline. Some even consider the revival of drive-in theaters. Currently, there are 500 operating drive-ins in the country, but one big problem with drive-ins is it has to be the “right” movie. 

Business Insider explains that Drive-ins must play a popular blockbuster in order to even gain hopes of attracting attendees. Therefore, drive-ins are not a plausible option to replace theaters as a new way to release movies that do not belong on streaming services. 

Film lovers are worried about the results that the death of movie theaters will have on small indie films that are normally released in quaint theaters. Indiewire writes that producers know that they will not survive on streaming platforms alone. 

Junior Kara Petrosino of Colts Neck, believes that the change will be beneficial for everyone. 

“It’s obvious that, at first, the switch was very jarring and production companies were having a hard time,” Petrosino said. “But now it seems that these companies have gotten more used to the switch to streaming.” 

Petrosino thinks that this will improve moviegoers’ ability to watch films and help indie films to find recognition. Ellis agrees with her. 

“I think we’ll be starting to see a lot more low-budget independent films with more creative freedom, which is super exciting,” Ellis said.  

While theaters closing may be viewed as the death of an art form, others believe it opens a door to new opportunities. 

Gina Duncan, an associate VP of Film and Strategic Programming at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, thinks that streaming services and theaters are both here to stay.

Streaming and cinemas should be able to coexist — the issue is how.” Duncan said.