Can movie theaters withstand COVID-19?

By Max Silverman
October 13, 2020

Due to the coronavirus, many movie theaters are struggling financially.
Due to the coronavirus, many movie theaters are struggling financially.

Many businesses and industries are facing devastating financial hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic. The movie industry, in particular the movie theater industry, is one of the hardest struck by the pandemic. Theaters were  closed for almost half a year due to health and safety concerns and a lack of new movies getting released due to the pandemic. Theaters haven’t just been hurting because of COVID-19, however. For the past few years, many people are using streaming services like Netflix to watch movies. Because of this, many business experts, such as Dr. Eric Malm, professor of economics and business, are fearful that the movie theater industry is going to collapse.

Desperate to get back on their feet, movie theaters started to reopen in late August in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately for theaters, many people have avoided going out to see movies. A good way to see this unwillingness to go back to theaters is by looking at the box office sales for the movie “Tenant.” According to Sarah Whitten from CNBC, “It hauled in less than $10 million when it debuted over Labor Day Weekend.” This is a three- to five-time difference in profit compared to similar movies released before the COVID  pandemic.

Cabrini students are also wary of going back to movie theaters. Many are concerned about safety regulations, but others are uninterested in the films being shown. If they want to watch a movie, students usually use a streaming service.

The popularity of the the streaming service Netflix has lead to decline in revenue for the move theater industry.

Rodrigo Gonzalez, a sophomore business major, said that one of the main reasons he doesn’t plan on going to a theater soon is because he isn’t interested in the few movies being shown currently. However, he did say that he may consider going if a movie he’s interested in starts playing.

Kenzi Eldabh, a biology major who is also a sophomore, shares similar sentiments. She is also concerned that movie theaters may have lax safety procedures, such as having difficulty making people wear a mask while watching a film. She also expresses disinterest in the films being shown and would rather stream a movie she likes.

So, what are theaters doing to draw in customers and revenue? Malm said that “independent theaters…are sending out emails that allow members to watch movies online through them (the theaters).” Unfortunately, this brings in very little profit. Some theaters are even showing older movies to try and draw a crowd and create excitement in going to the movies.

While movie theaters are hurting, many people and companies are taking advantage of the boredom and loneliness people are facing during the past few months by setting up drive-in theaters. Drive-in theaters are open areas with a giant screen where you can watch movies from the comfort of your car. People still want to see movies on the big screen, but for health reasons or the expensive price of a theater ticket, many are choosing to go try out drive ins.

Drive-in movie theaters have seen a boom in popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to streaming services, the movie theater industry has been on a decline for the past few years. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many theaters are now struggling to just stay afloat. While many standard theaters have recently reopened, there is a very strong possibility that movie theaters will be a relic of the past. In their place, streaming services and drive-in theaters look to take the place of the titan that was the movie theater industry.

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Max Silverman

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