A friend has offered me some movie passes she’s pretty sure she and her husband won’t be able to use. Should I use them, this will be the first I’ve been in a theatre since Oscar season 2020, just before the beginning of the pandemic. I might even attempt to find a babysitter and go with my partner; we haven’t been to the movies together in very nearly two years. Right now, all over the world, similar decisions are being made—is it yet time to see a movie in the theatre?
Like most other movie watchers, I’ve had some good and some bad experiences. Anyone who goes to the movies often enough can tell stories about times they’ve been. I know several people who all have the same story to an audience’s reaction to a specific trailer, for example—audiences all around the US. Some people have had more bad experiences than good and don’t plan to go back. Some people—many of my friends—have already gone. It’s a decision everyone is having to make for themselves.
What’s interesting is that there is no historical model to base this on. Oh, closed theatres aren’t new. Any student of Elizabethan history can tell you about times theatres were closed because of outbreaks of plague; some of what we know about the chronology of Shakespeare involves what he was doing in those times. During the 1918 flu epidemic, theatres were closed, and that at the time would have included movie theatres. What’s different now is our viewing landscape, though. After all, while Elizabeth I could still have plays when the theatres were closed, normal people couldn’t.
I, for one, have already seen several movies I was particularly looking forward to that have been released in the last year and a half. I have ways of doing that—in my case, they’re even legal ways. No, I haven’t paid extra for a movie; I haven’t needed to (despite the generous contributions to my Patreon and Ko-fi). I have, in my own home, ways of viewing any number of movies that interest me, for amounts of money I’m already paying. Sometimes even for free, if I’m not fussed about the age of the movie.
Everyone has to make their own decision about when it’s time to go back. However, it does seem odd that the executives aren’t taking the value of that decision into consideration when talking about how the movies are doing financially. All sorts of other things are getting blamed when movies don’t make as much as the studios hope, and it’s not, say, that there are people who still aren’t ready to go back. I’ve been vaccinated, as has my partner; my son’s gotten his first shot and cheered when he was able to. But my daughter is four and still can’t get hers. How safe do I feel?