COVID-19 has seemed to abruptly grab hold of the lives of all functioning humans within the past year.
Whether you find yourself in the heart of a bustling city as an essential worker or in the comfort of your own home in quarantine (if you haven’t killed at least one of your loved ones yet), I’m sure you have felt the forceful hand of the virus in several aspects of your life.
It has proven to be quite detrimental to our everyday routines, previously important plans like graduations and the beloved hobbies that you used to feel could be a way of coping with this mess of a year.
I can say that I have grown increasingly tired of COVID-19 for a plethora of reasons, but one that has been in the back of my mind since the beginning of quarantine is the sudden disappearance of one of my favorite activities: going to the movies.
Ever since the world received word of the upcoming quarantine, I have longed for the signature overpriced buckets of popcorn, the sight of someone’s blazing phone screen in a blackened theater and all other discomforts that may ensue during one’s viewing experience.
All seem like they would bring me a sense of comfort and familiarity during this trying time, even though I once took them for granted.
I’ve also grown to worry about the future of theaters and film as a whole industry.
Despite this, I feel that there is still some hope for the industry, as individual production companies seem to be adapting by releasing their films on popular streaming platforms where viewers can pay to rent films that would have otherwise premiered in theaters.
Some of the films I’ve been looking forward to the most, including The Batman, have only premiered their trailers on YouTube. This was followed by unclear release dates, such as The Batman’s trailer displaying “?0?0” where “2020” should have been (although my friend recently pointed out that it was a reference to The Riddler’s character, I see it as a COVID-19 allusion).
Some other highly anticipated films, such as Christopher Nolan’s Tenet have begun to premiere in select theaters throughout larger urban areas of the U.S., including Cincinnati, which recently reopened most movie theaters under social distancing guidelines. Other studios have been halting both production and release dates in an attempt to wait until COVID-19 finally concludes.
Additionally, according to Fortune.com, the box office could quite possibly face a significant loss of income nearing $17 billion.
However, the aforementioned streaming services have gained a significantly large audience. For example, according to MarketWatch.com, Netflix has reported double the subscribers it expected to gain since the beginning of quarantine.
This increase begs the following questions: Could the future of theaters be transformed from the big screen to the computer screen?
Are we unconsciously becoming more comfortable with entertainment in our own homes than the purchasing of tickets and the leisurely theater-going experience?
Could theaters go the way of shopping malls, where the internet (namely Jeff Bezos) seems to be taking over the industry as we know it?
What’s for sure is that Hollywood is currently experiencing one of its most difficult changes in history, and while the future of film may not be as clear as a camera lens, I’m confident that we can catch the upcoming wave of movie premieres sooner than later.
Let’s hope that the next Academy Awards don’t involve actors donning designer masks and that COVID isn’t the be-all-end-all for the future of film.