BY BRIAN COOTE
Movie theaters have been a prime form of entertainment throughout generations. Movies have always been a stable to pop culture and it is often rare not to see one in a community, yet due to streaming services and the recent pandemic modern movie theaters are going extinct. Movie theaters can not be replaced, but they will need to change to fit the modern era.
Many aspects have been hurting movie theaters. One of the earliest problems for movie theaters has been pricing. The average cost of a movie ticket is 9 dollars and 11 cents. The price has almost doubled since the 1990s. That is without additional refreshments or snacks. This problem is due to the amount movie theaters must pay to obtain a movie. On average 50-55 percent of ticket revenue must go to film studios and can even be higher depending on if it is opening night. With half of there profits going to film studies local movie theaters like our own Great Oaks Cinema had trouble being a profitable business.
“Sometimes when I worked, we would have $0,” said Rachel Kellner, a former Great Oaks employee. “We always relied on big blockbuster movies to get a big crowd for concession. Even then we would only make $1000 in profits.”
While movie theaters were slowly starting to lose money and struggle, COVID-19 hit. Due to new laws, all movie theaters closed. For many months these businesses had no way to make money and slowly lost financial stability. Many small town movie theaters like Great Oaks Cinema had to be closed down as multiple months with no income was the last straw. Even now, multiple months in, as movie theaters are able to reopen, film studios are hesitant to release movies as box office numbers would be down.
“We were always counting on big movies like Mulan, Wonder Women 2, and Quiet Place 2,” said Rachel Kellner. “We depended on these movies and when COVID pushed them back it meant trouble.”
There is also more than one way to watch movies nowadays. There are many streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. Movies can be sent right to our own home theaters. Inadvertently when streaming services tried to replace movie theaters they showed just how much we needed them.
Cost has been a problem with movie theaters, but movie theaters are cheaper than streaming services. One subscription many be cheaper than constantly going to the movie but no subscription has all the options. With many subscriptions come exclusives. Streaming services claim the rights to multiple movies which makes you have to own all the services to see all your favorites. For example, if you only buy Disney+ they are not going to be featuring other companies’ movies.
Film studios can not rely on streaming services they need movie theaters. While companies are making extra money off of service they can not match the box office success of theaters with streaming. For example, the remake of Mulan was on Disney+ for 30 dollars instead of hitting theaters. Mulan only made 43.8 million dollars. Compared to their other live-action remakes like lion King, which made 1.3 billion dollars at the box office, Mulan faired poorly. For the producers of the content movie theaters are a viable necessity for profits and for consumers this method of buying multiple subscriptions and then having to purchase movies on these subscriptions cost way more than going to the movies.
“We have so many and the total racks up, Amazon Prime is 65 a year, Hulu is 11.95 a month, Netflix is 12 a month and Disney is 70 a year,” said Janet Hoover,12. “We only have a lot because we share subscriptions with family.”
Nothing can compare to the sentimental value of a movie theater. Watching a movie in the theater on the IMAX screen can not compare to watching it at home on the futon. There is something different about the experience of being at a theater you can not replace. Even stores advertise popcorn by comparing it to the movie theater flavor. There is just something different about being in a seat on opening night that causes the viewer to have a different reaction.
While movie theaters can not be replaced they need to change. To attract more business, prices need to lower. This is not a change made locally but nationally. Movie theaters need to be franchises run by studios. If these theaters were run straight from the top, prices could be lowered as film studios would still be getting their regular amount, but would financially cover the local business.
It is not enough to have movie theater franchises. The Regal Movie chain has just announced close with no definitive reopen date. The second-largest film exhibitor U.S could not stay open, while it is due to Covid-19, it shows that private management is not a viable option to keep movie theaters open during a crisis that affects the entertainment business.
There is nothing theaters can do against pandemics like COVID, but if run by film studios, events like these would not mean the closing of the business. General improvements would also come with franchise theaters: bigger seats, more selections of snacks, different screening options.
Movie theaters have seen a recent decline due to the recent pandemic. Steaming services tried to fill the gap but they have shown why we need movie theaters. By being run straight by film studios, movie theaters will come out better than they ever have.