Will movie theaters survive the pandemic?


Heath Alexander, Editor

The way we consume media has changed significantly over the course of the pandemic, but one industry has had to drastically change. The movie industry has had to adapt to theaters not being the main stream of revenue for their movies and have started streaming movies directly to services like Disney Plus, Netflix, Paramount Plus and more.

Movie theaters have not had business for over a year, and up until recent months theaters have been completely shut down. Although the theaters have been reopening, many people are still scared to go for fear of COVID. This poses a serious problem for theaters because they can only make a profit through selling tickets. Unlike the movie producers, theaters cannot stream movies to customers at home. This means theaters have to find a way to convince people it’s safe to come sit in a theater and see a movie, because if people get too used to streaming the newest movie releases at home then theaters could be in serious trouble.

But there is hope for theaters. Streaming direct releases made a lot less money for companies like Disney. As an example, the Disney Plus release of live action Mulan pulled in 1.12 million U.S. households, charging $29.99 per household. That’s only around 30 million dollars while it cost 200 million to make. The film ended up costing Disney 170 million dollars and their second Disney Plus release, Cruella, pulled in only 686,000 families making only $20 million, compared to Disney’s Avengers: Endgame, which pulled in 2.798 billion dollars. The direct-to-Disney Plus movies ended up being a “box office” flop.

If this is the trend, companies will probably choose not to release their movies to streaming services and continue exclusive theater releases. Most customers prefer to watch a new movie in the theater just for the experience. Even when tickets for a family can end up being 50 dollars vs Disney charging a flat rate of 30 dollars, people just prefer to go out and enjoy a movie at the theater instead of staying in for a movie. For many people theaters will always hold a special place in their hearts and memories, and this is what the industry is hoping will keep it alive.