Eric Warner Staff Writer
In most countries, the Coronavirus outbreak has impacted almost every aspect of life. Schools have closed their doors, cancelled all of their events, and are making all students take online classes from home for the rest of the semester. Many institutions and businesses have been ordered to close down until the virus is contained leaving many people unemployed for the time being. An example of a business that is in jeopardy will be movie theaters.
Theaters all across the country have been ordered to shut down in order to help prevent the spread of the virus. The virus spreads mainly from airborne fluids such as coughs, sneezes, or spit. Since theaters are a location where many people gather in a tightly packed area, theaters are a perfect place for germs to jump from one person to another. Film releases have since been delayed until distributors better understand the circumstance regarding the virus and even movie production companies have had to postpone the production of upcoming films.
To not lose a profit on recently premiered films, production companies and theaters have collaborated in releasing these films digitally to people in their homes. AMC Theatres recently introduced a new initiative to their movie distribution system with that being AMC Theatres on Demand. As the name suggests, people get rent or purchase movies within AMC’s library from new blockbusters like Jumanji: The Next Level to older releases such as Scream and this service can be accessed from Apple, Android, Samsung, Roku, or other devices. Meanwhile Universal Pictures announced that its current theatrical films like The Hunt, The Invisible Man, and the upcoming Trolls World Tour “will be available on a wide variety of the most popular on-demand services for a 48-hour rental period at a suggested retail price of $19.99 in the U.S. and the price equivalent in international markets,” which was stated by Gizmodo. However, other upcoming Universal films like F9 are delayed a year. Disney is also releasing its new films such as Pixar’s Onward and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker digitally to Apple, Amazon, and Disney + very soon.
While it’s very gracious for these companies to release these films to people who wouldn’t have been able to see them otherwise during this time, this may be a test for the future of film distribution. It seems more and more people nowadays would rather watch new movies at home through streaming services than having to go out to a movie theater. With ticket and snack prices constantly increasing, messy and boisterous people during the showing of the movies, and having movies often leaked online, many people don’t see the point of theaters anymore. These demand services could become the future of movie distribution if they prove to be extremely successful.
This is not the way movie theaters should fall. Theaters are a place where like-minded people can gather and celebrate in their interests. People can experience events that they never would have without theaters such as first dates, clutching friends and family members during horror movies, continuing family traditions, crying together during an emotional scene, or even cheering as a united crowd.
I remember when I saw my first Star Wars movie in theaters. It was 2015 and the unimaginable happened to all kids who grew up watching Star Wars films, after 40 years Episode 7 was about to get released! From the moment I heard about the film’s production, I couldn’t sit still thinking about watching it and thinking about all the possibilities that could occur in the movie. In December, I went to see the film with my family and the theater was completely packed with people who were just as excited as I was for the movie. As soon as the words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” appeared the entire theater filled with cheers of happiness and cries of joy. We were united in our anticipation for the film. We all laughed at the jokes, cried at the sad moments, and clapped when the credits rolled.
You can’t get an experience like that anywhere else and it would be disappointing for these experiences to disappear for future generations. Hopefully theaters alongside humans will be able to survive the impact of the virus.