Theaters Won’t Go Away


Heather Kelly

Lilianna and I at the AMC Tyngsboro 12 theater when we saw Incredibles 2.

Caitlin Treacy, A&E Editor

The line before the concession stand was backed up. Everyone wanted to buy overpriced foods to have something to munch on during the movie, including us. Lilianna and I were going to share a flatbread pizza. As the line inched along, we buzzed in anticipation about the movie we were going to see.

“It was before Christmas.. I think it was Christmas break, in our junior year. We’ve had a tradition of going to the movies together for a while, and we love AMC and we always get the same snacks, like the pretzels and the pizza,” Lilianna Kelly ‘21 recalls. Her mom, and I liked to get food (usually from Olive Garden) and then go see our movie. Our past watches have included Booksmart, Incredibles 2, and the Mamma Mia sequel.

Little Women was the obvious choice for us at the time. “It was a little nostalgic, because I remember being in fourth grade and my mom read Little Women to me,” said Lilianna. “Watching it again reminded me of it.”

After we grabbed our snacks, which included the flatbread pizza and some peanut M&Ms, we found our seats in the theater. The chairs we were sitting in were way too close to the screen. It made my head hurt, having the bright lights bouncing directly onto my face. However, once the movie started, that didn’t matter.

Theaters have the ability to completely draw you into the movie you’re watching. You’re surrounded by a dark room, with your only distractions being your friends or family whispering a question or an exclamation into your ear, which is part of the fun.

The movie, which was directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Saoirse Ronan, was a great watch. “It was a good movie, it was cute. Timothée Chalamet was hot,” Lilianna reviewed. Little did we know at the time that it was the last movie we would be seeing in a theater for over a year.

Because of the pandemic, the opportunity to catch a movie in the theater has all but been taken away. Theaters are clearly suffering, with Cinemagic shuttering their theaters permanently after only temporarily closing them when the pandemic started. The AMC Tyngsboro 12 theater, which was the one we went to, is only open for three days a week.

However, movie theaters have been seeing a decline for years. Theater attendance fell 4.6% in 2019, despite record-setting box office numbers for movies like Avengers: Endgame and The Lion King. Industry professionals are worried that streaming services will soon replace theaters altogether.

Streaming services are able to give you a good movie experience. Platforms like Netflix and HBO Max have some great selections to watch. There’s a chrome extension called Teleparty which lets you and your friends watch movies on different streaming platforms simultaneously, so even when separated by a pandemic, movie nights with friends are still an option. Lilianna and I used it to watch X-Men: Apocalypse and the Netflix series Hollywood together.

But the experience just isn’t the same. Streaming can be a problem when the movie is obscured by your reflection on your laptop. The feeling of being in the theater with other people, dwarfed by the big screen, can’t be beat.

“Movie theaters are a pretty big thing with my family. We always keep track of movies that are coming out and we plan to go and watch them, so I miss that,” Lilianna says. This is what many people feel about the theaterーit’s not just to watch the movie, it’s a fun social gathering. 

I believe that the enjoyment of movie theaters will last for a long time, which is why I believe that theaters can and will survive this pandemic. The experiences they give won’t be abandoned by audiences anytime soon. Theaters are opening with a limited capacity in New York City and other places across the country. Box office numbers are rising, and the vaccine for Covid-19 is becoming more widely available. The importance of movie theaters to many people will keep it’s industry alive.