Streaming and In Theaters

Eve Loehrer, Staff Editor

When the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, movie theaters found themselves in financial danger. Even AMC, the largest chain in the country, barely survived the shut-down. However, theaters have found ways to show movies again. For example, whole theaters at AMC could be rented out to allow for social distancing. Recently, new movies have begun showing in theaters again, including Wonder Woman 1984, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Godzilla vs. Kong. 

Movie theaters were especially dangerous during COVID-19 because food was served and patrons often sat right next to each other. To reopen, theaters have had to implement new precautions such as leaving spaces between groups, closing every other drink station, and requiring masks when not eating. However, junior Maleah’s experience at B&B Theaters still wasn’t COVID-safe.

“There were empty rows in between us, but there was no social distancing between families. No one had their masks on either because they were eating popcorn and drinking,” Olvera said.

In addition to theatrical releases, new movies are also being offered on streaming services. For example, Disney+ has offered Mulan (2020) and Raya and the Last Dragon as part of their Premier Access program. For a $29.99 purchase, Disney+ could watch the movie the same day as it came out in theaters and rewatch it as many times as they wanted. After a few months, the movies become available for all subscribers. Mulan is already available without additional cost, and Raya and the Last Dragon will be in June. Other services, however, have offered new movies without an additional charge. HBO Max subscribers could watch Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day as it came out in the few theaters that were open. 

Value-wise, watching movies on streaming services is cheaper. Adult tickets at AMC are $9.49 each for digital screenings, and tickets for three people cost about the same as a Disney+ Premier Access subscription. Two tickets cost more than HBO Max’s $14.99 monthly subscription, which covers a wide catalogue of other movies and TV shows. Additionally, the streaming option allows for rewatches, while movies in theaters are a one-time viewing. And the ticket prices don’t even account for the overpriced snacks. With this price discrepancy, why watch movies at the theater anymore? 

“I think my mom bought Mulan, and we lucked out because we have our own home theater, but it wasn’t the same feeling,” Olvera said. 

Going to the movies has been a popular form of entertainment for decades, and even though it’s not the only way to watch movies anymore, the movie theater environment still appeals to viewers and has kept the industry afloat through the pandemic. Recently, Godzilla vs. Kong made $32.2 million domestically during its opening weekend, more than any other movie since last March. However, this number is still low compared to the other movies in the franchise; Godzilla made $90 million its opening weekend and Kong: Skull Island made $60 million. Although the box office is recovering, it’s unclear whether theaters will ever be able to compete with streaming service releases in the future.

“I think it’s kind of just like a fill-in role at the moment. I still hope that movies do come back and be the main way for movies to come out,” senior Demetrius Bush said. 

However, Olvera believes streaming services will replace theaters completely.

“I think that [streaming services] are the only way that people will see shows. I think it’s completely different from what we used to do,” Olvera said. “[We used to] wait for a specific episode, but now we can watch them all from the comfort of our own home.” 

The outcome of the clash between movie theaters and streaming services remains to be seen. However, with the success of Godzilla vs. Kong and vaccine distribution, things seem to be looking up for theaters for the time being.