The looming demise of movie theaters

Streaming services overtake film industry


Johanna Kaplan

AMC theater sits empty before a film showing May 20. The rise of streaming services has contributed to the decline of turnout in theaters.

Johanna Kaplan

Going to the movies is a beloved experience for many, but has become less popular as of late. In 2021, a notably high 61% of Americans skipped out on the moviegoing experience. The pandemic hit a hard blow to the industry, but the real culprits for low turnout are streaming services, such as Netflix, according to AMC Theatres employee Jayla Rae. 

“Since streaming services have come out, movie theaters’ funds have gone down a lot,” Rae said. “Streaming sites have taken over.”

With theaters having shut down during the heat of COVID-19, streaming services and customers alike have accommodated, according to junior and AMC employee Brady Soja.

“COVID(-19) has taken a big hit on theaters because the streaming services are like, ‘hey, you could watch this at home if you want to (and people can’t resist that),’” Soja said. 

The pandemic has opened people’s eyes to the multitude of at-home streaming options, according to senior Avi Pestana. 

“Pre-pandemic, I liked to go to theaters, but post-pandemic, I like to stay home,” Pestana said.

For junior and Emagine Entertainment employee Lotus Deuel, people consistently choose at-home options over hauling out to the theatres. 

“If you can buy it or rent it on Amazon, the pre-sales and the tickets are gonna go down instantly,” Deuel said. 

If you can buy it or rent it on Amazon, the pre-sales and the tickets are gonna go down instantly

— Lotus Deuel

When “The Batman” became available outside of theaters, ticket sales plummeted, according to Rae. 

“As soon as it came out on HBO, people stopped coming, and we stopped showing it because nobody wanted to see it (in theaters) anymore,” Rae said.

Two companies in particular are to blame, according to Soja. 

“Amazon and Netflix are the two major tyrants of the theater,” Soja said.

According to cinema teacher Andrew Carlson, film corporations want one thing at the end of the day money and they will chase it relentlessly.

“The drawback to the movie-going experience is that the idea from movie companies is, more or less, (to) go where we can make the most money. Unfortunately, right now, that’s with streaming services,” Carlson said. “A lot of people economically are gonna opt for (seeing films) at home.”

Though most films don’t do well in theaters when they are simultaneously released on streaming platforms, there is an exception to this, according to Deuel. 

 “When it comes to big blockbuster movies, then people go because of the fact that it’s easier and cheaper to get it at the movies (than at home),” Deuel said.

For Carlson, the appeal of seeing films in a theater lies in the technicalities of the experience.

“The purpose of making films was to have an experience in the theater. Ideally, you can immerse yourself in the environment,” Carlson said. “There’s certain films that work completely differently on (the big) screen than in your home.”

Despite theaters being preferable, watching at home is an easier ordeal for most, according to Rae. 

“Movie theaters are slowly dying down,” Rae said. “It’s sad because nobody gets that experience anymore but it’s also more convenient to do it at home.”