The Sinking Ship that is Cinema
I used to love going to the movies. Then cellphones were invented, and while I still love going to the movies, I am much pickier about how and when.
I’ve been worried about the future of the movie theater since COVID — movie-going seemed to be on a downward trend in the US before, and it really seems like in the wake of the pandemic, many theaters are just going out of business, or worse.
Word is, AMC is going to start charging different prices depending on which seat you reserve in the theater. This seems to be taking a page right out of the TicketMaster playbook, and I predict that it will backfire on them.
Movie theaters are competing with the fact that the home-viewing experience has dramatically improved in my lifetime. 4K TVs and surround sound are commonplace, and what’s more, you can pause a home-viewed movie to go to the bathroom and if anybody starts talking, you can kick them out of your house. You’re also much less likely to be mass-murdered at home watching a Joker or Batman movie, so uh, another check mark in the “home” column.
AMC, and probably most movie theater chains, are desperate right now, looking for a way forward in this changing world. Personally, I’d be okay with cinemas becoming a niche experience. An Alamo-style experience beats the “cram them in tiny seats with a variable cost” experience at most AMC theaters. We don’t need 30 screens anymore. The cineplex may go the way of the dinosaur soon, and I will probably find myself nostalgic for those dark hallways, but perhaps going to the movies will turn out to be a very 20th century thing, in the end, like rotary dial telephones and democracy.