Theaters face permanent loss in light of Covid-19


Art by Mary Stauder

Some movie lovers plan on heading back to the theater when the coronavirus becomes eradicated. But is that even a possibility? Will the industry last that long? The movie theater industry hangs on by a thread these days, but not just because of the coronavirus. 


So many alternative at home experiences have become available in recent years. The theaters cannot sustainably draw in consumers based on their current business model. According to Forbes Senior Contributor Dana Feldman, one of the most glaring issues for consumers is the pricey cost of attending movie showings compared to subscriptions to services such as Hulu, Netflix or Amazon Prime. When going to the movies, customers pay for expensive tickets, parking and overpriced food. 


Feldman believes that this could be fixed by creating subscription services for theaters. Since its creation, a subscription service provided by AMC has shown success. Within its first year of existence, AMC’s subscription service acquired about 860,000 subscribers. This is about 360,000 more than expected. Cinemark and Regal Cinemas have since reacted to AMC’s success and created subscription services of their own. However, coronavirus has interrupted these services creating many alternative possibilities for the future.


According to David Priest of Computer Network (CNET), drive-ins could come out of the pandemic as stronger than they were before. Drive-ins have been able to survive because of their retro atmosphere. However, they will be unable to make up for the entire theater industry as they are only open part of the year and only at night. Priest foresees another possible alternative to the current movie theater landscape. He predicts that companies who provide streaming services such as Disney, Netflix and Hulu will take over the theaters. For example, a Disney theater could sell merchandise while a Netflix theater could have benefits for their premium subscribers. That being said, this possibility could be a long shot.

Nothing is predictable in 2020. However, movie theaters can predict that their future will look quite different than their current situation. It will be interesting to see how theaters react. It may even be interesting enough to make a movie out of it.