At the Movies: A Near Empty House

Lights are off and no one is home.

It’s a sad state of affairs for the movie theater industry. After repeated lockdowns and many discouragements from gathering with strangers in enclosed areas for most of last year, and scant encouragement this year, the movie theater industry is watching their glory days fade into the sunset in the rear view mirror.

A survey by film research company The Quorum finds 49% of movie-goers saying they’re probably not going back.

Pop Culture analyst Bob Thompson, Trustee Professor of Television and Popular Culture at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, says don’t expect them to disappear though.

“I don’t think the playing of movies in theaters are going to go away entirely,” Thompson advises. “Movies survived television when it really started to kick in during the 1950’s.” Ironically, one of the big draws to the early days of television was a show called “I Love Lucy,” being revisited in a Nicole Kidman movie being released to theater houses later this month. Will redhead magic work again?

Movie buffs learned they could watch movies on their phones or tablets or TV during the pandemic when they wanted where they wanted and there is no going back. Studios discovered they could skirt around restrictions on how quickly after release their products could be made available for streaming, and there is no going back.

“The idea of paying the price that it is okay that you don’t want to watch with other people, it’s not on a big screen, but over the past couple years people have discovered they’re willing to pay that price,” Thompson adds.

Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu are now releasing their own major productions to streaming only.

Someone will have to tell Scarlett, tomorrow may not be another day.

photo: Getty Images

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