Movie theaters: helpful or a hindrance?

West Side Story staffer Luke Krchak looks at the movie industry's greatest question: should new movies skip the movie theaters?

As we plunged into the COVID-19 pandemic, movie theatres started to close, leaving movies like “Trolls 2” and “Scooby!” to release on video on demand. 

With movie theatres planning a late summer reopening, the following question has been raised: should movie studios send their movies to streaming services or should theatres continue to be the primary opening release platform?

The first subject is money. With theatres closing, movie industries across the world lost billions of dollars, which was a big hit to movie producers. They get far less money for putting films on a streaming service and, for the most part, the streaming companies are the ones making the money from people watching the movies.

The next subject is the user experience. Seeing movies on the big screen is a great way to see the hit films, but with the pandemic, people are stuck viewing movies in their living rooms. Watching movies at home also has its ups, like being able to pause and rewind, eat the food you want, and a much more comfortable chair or couch. Recently I bought “Scooby!” when it was released for $25 on PlayStation – about the price it would have cost to see it in the theatres, but with the added ability to see it anytime and anywhere.

The final subject is jobs. You have people that work for the movie theatres that get laid off. Then you have the movie producers getting billions of dollars less that will lead to layoffs within their companies. The only gain in jobs would be streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and Hulu.

Movie theatres will continue to be used when the pandemic is over because it brings in much more money to movie producers keeping smaller companies afloat, and people can not pass up on the user experience with the bigger screens and the immersive sound. Personally, if I can buy the movie for the price of seeing it in the theatres it makes the most sense to just buy it, unless it is a long-awaited film like Star Wars.