There are roughly 5-6 thousand movie theaters throughout the United States. All of which are currently closed down due to the World pandemic known as Covid-19. The impact on which these closures will cause in the long-term is still unknown.
While many of the larger companies could survive a temporary closure. The smaller chains are bound to see irreparable damage. Regardless, big or small, when all is said and done with the virus it will be an up hill battle for theaters to recover.
The Struggle before the Virus
While 2017 was a 25 year low for the movie theater business. 2018 and 2019 came roaring back due to huge releases. Avengers, Star Wars and a plethora of Disney films.
While you would think that would be enough to take the worry of the future away. Aspects such as streaming services and the high cost of the movie going experience is taking a toll on the smaller chains.
We have seen a number of new techniques in releasing films over the past few years. Filmmakers and studios have been toying with the idea of wider releases that would see the movies released digitally day and date of the theatrical release. While movie fans can rejoice by staying in the comfort of their own home. The theater going experience will quickly become endangered.
Movie theater chains have started doing some interesting tactics to keep fans coming back. Subscription passes and Reward perk programs have started to become the norm. Discount days and theme days have also become a staple in the industry. But is it all enough?
In late 2019 the AMC stubs program hit more than 900,000 subscribers. Here is a snippet from Variety
“The AMC Stubs A-List program’s continued positive momentum makes it far and away the most popular movie theater subscription program in the world,” AMC CEO and president Adam Aron said. “Its success is a testament to its guest friendly features and the significant value it offers for movie-goers. It also reflects the powerful draw that movie-going has in the United States. With more than 900,000 members, we are highly gratified that our A-List efforts have been so well received by our guests.”
Covid-19 and Forward
An unprecedented event in the world occurred. A Global Pandemic. Because of this in mid-March nearly all theaters across the nation were shut down for public health concerns.
Not only have theaters shut down. But the entertainment industry as a whole has. They have stopped productions, pushed film releases to later this or early next year. All of which will affect the future of the Movie Theater business.
So what is going to save them?
When all is said and done the public as a collective will need to make sure to take time and enjoy the theater experience again. Take the family, buy that large popcorn, get those subscriptions and sow your appreciation.
It will be up to us to keep the industry moving forward and save it from collapse. With production pushed back and on hold indefinitely. Many films that were due to release in 18+ months may now be two or more years out.
Patience and appreciation will be what saves theaters in this hard time.