by Izaak Garcia
With the advent of online streaming, cinemas nationwide are at a crisis point.
Around the end of 2020, entering the beginning months of 2021, theaters tentatively reopened, welcoming people with open arms once again. It seemed like everything would be alright for movie theaters and the businesses surrounding them—right? Well, not quite. From small businesses and restaurants to big airlines, almost every single sector has felt the effects from the ongoing pandemic. Once businesses and other places of human interaction started to close, movie theaters weren’t far behind, shutting their doors to moviegoers across the country. But as theaters shut their doors to the public, another door opened to hundreds of millions of people around the world.
The movie industry expected that after months of being locked in their houses, people would come back to the theaters—and they were right. The box office numbers showed promise for the industry, with movies such as Godzilla vs. Kong making over $85 million and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet making over $55 million. What the movie industry did not expect was the rise of streaming services. With new releases such as Disney’s Cruella and James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad being released in theaters along with streaming platforms like Disney+ and HBO Max, a problem presented itself. If movie watchers stayed in the comfort of their homes and accessed these streaming platforms, why would they go out of their way to travel to the movie theater, pay for tickets and concessions, just to watch the same movie? People now had these major movies in their own homes, and the amount of money previously spent at the theater was now the price to rent/buy the movie from the comfort of home. Movies released in theaters alongside streaming platforms attracted millions of streaming buyers; but as all these people stream instead of heading to the theater, the box office gets none of the profit. This means the movie makes less money, which in turn causes the movie to look like it flopped.
Highly rated movies, by critics and audiences alike, could do extremely poorly upon release with the metric of success still being box office sales. Case in point, The Suicide Squad. Receiving multiple high ratings as well as an outstanding 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie was set up for a successful opening weekend—but this wasn’t the case. With a budget of around $180 million, on opening weekend it only made slightly above $26 million, essentially “flopping” at the box office.
Movies were made to bring people together, but also to be seen and heard in a theater. The immersive experience of seeing a movie in a theater is like no other, and unfortunately, that feeling is fading. So, what can we do as audience members and moviegoers to help these movies? Supporting movies and watching them in the theater go hand in hand, so don’t be afraid to put on your mask, grab a family member or two, and enjoy the magic of the movies.
About Izaak Garcia
Izaak Garcia is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California, majoring in Cinema and Media Studies with a minor in Applied Cybersecurity. He has played soccer with FC Peoria, Dunlap, and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and English for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new languages, and playing video games.