Movie Theaters Aren’t Dying Fast Enough

I’m looking forward to reading the comments.

I’m morally torn on this.

As a cinephile, I believe movies are meant to be experienced in a theater because the cinematic larger-than-life size of the screen highlights the numerous visual nuances (i.e. blocking, lighting, framing, and shot selection) that enhance the salient narrative and thematic points of any given movie in a way that our smaller television screens at home can’t match.

As a consumer however, my opinion on the importance of movie theaters changes dramatically. Even though the cinema is the superior way to experience a movie, the prospect of movie theaters closing their doors for good downright arouses me because what will inevitably replace the brick and mortar theater chains will be a much more customer friendly, convenient, and cost effective way to watch newly released films.

Why yes, I’m referring to subscription based online-streaming. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade or so, streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have become a force to be reckoned with. After demolishing and dancing on the graves of Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, Netflix and similar companies are sadistically grinding their axes in preparation to add movie theater chains to the carcass heap they accrued when conquering the dvd rental business model, and the AMCs and Cinemarks of the world are collectively shitting themselves with fear because they’re in danger of becoming irrelevant in a world that increasingly views them as an unnecessary middleman.

Hollywood is well aware of the eventual demise of the multiplex, and look no further than how the Summer of 2017’s dismal box office returns have given Hollywood the major kick in the ass needed to help them come to the realization that they must change their respective business models by either launching streaming services of their own or partnering up with established streaming providers.

In fact, Disney recently announced two(!) streaming services in order to adapt to a marketplace where millennials have become the most prominent demographic, and seeing as millennials prefer online streaming over traveling to the theater, getting cable, and purchasing dvd’s, that’s the new reality of the marketplace.

Additionally, Apple is striving to strike a deal with high ranking Hollywood execs where the tech company would be able to have an On Demand style feature enabling users to rent a movie that was released into theaters a few weeks prior and would be a great and viable idea if the movies didn’t cost an outrageous $35 to $50 per rental. Good luck with that.

Still, I’m excited Hollywood is beginning to at the very least consider streaming as a viable alternative to movie theaters because let’s be honest here, online streaming would be cheaper and far more convenient way to watch new releases for three crucial reasons:

  1. The customer doesn’t have to choose a specific preordained time of their day to make a trip to the cinema, and with streaming, the viewer can watch a movie on their time and not the theater’s.
  2. The prices for tickets and concessions are astronomically high. Every trip to to the movie theater is an absolute fleecing where $10+ tickets, $6 fountain drinks, $5 boxes of candy, and $9 bags of popcorn are the norm rather than the exception. The pricing is so egregious that even Jewel-Osco is a cheaper alternative to purchase soda and snacks, and that shouldn’t be possible.
  3. People suck for a multitude of reasons: we’re destroying the planet, we kill each other indiscriminately, and we constantly talk during movies. At the cinema, how much I enjoy a movie is often dependent on a whole auditorium of people, and if even just one patron is disruptive, they can ruin a viewer’s movie experience. This isn’t a problem with streaming: unlike a theater, your home is a controlled environment where you can also pause and rewind a movie at any given moment, and if a baby is crying you don’t have to just shut up and deal with it like I did when some awful parent brought their wailing two-year-old to The Fucking Witch (Great parenting!).

With these three cons, the positives just don’t compare, and this is especially true when you factor in that the average consumer can buy a sizable television and good sound system for a reasonable price.

The days for theaters are numbered, and while I believe small and independent cinemas will be able to survive by virtue of there being a niche audience of cinephiles and enthusiasts, watching a new movie with family and friends from the comfort of your luxurious couch will inevitably become the definitive way we experience new movies. Like sound and color before it, streaming is just the natural evolution of how the viewer experiences film, and movie theater chains had best adjust to this new reality and craft a viable long-term a business model to ensure their respective companies remain relevant.

The end is nigh for the multiplex, and it can’t die fast enough.

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