The end of cinema as we know it (for now)


A system of cells interlinked
And just like that, no more going to the movies, at least where I live. All cinemas are closed until further notice. Like many other familiar cultural entertainment mainstays, one day everything was fine, and then next, just up and gone. A few months ago, a friend at work and I were having a conversation about what a possible catalyst would be for films to get released directly to people's homes. Perhaps not totally bypassing cinemas, but at least in tandem, with shared release dates in all formats. Cinema would join streaming and physical media as just another option, instead of a guaranteed precursor.

Well, here we are. Looks like a global pandemic was the catalyst. Already, films with a recent release are getting pushed through for electronic sell-through. Obviously this new Vin Diesel vehicle isn't a massive tent pole event, a far cry from the next great (or not-so-great) Marvel joint, but the studios have to be at least considering contingency plans for the bigger films at this point in time. Even if the virus magically disappears in 3 months, which it won't, a gun shy public will be slow in rushing out to sit in a room full of coughing strangers sitting shoulder to shoulder.

I am already seeing many talking heads talking about sweeping changes to society as a whole - what will the face of cinema look like in the future?
"There’s absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP

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Might just end up like peep shows, each individual having their own booth with a viewing window and coin slot.

(At least I've been led to believe that's how a 'peep show' operates )
Pre-1930 Countdown

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You ready? You look ready.
Bigger/more spread out seats, fewer sold out showings, and hand sanitizer stations strategically placed throughout all facilities.

All things I have wanted to see happen anyways.
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A system of cells interlinked
Bigger/more spread out seats, fewer sold out showings, and hand sanitizer stations strategically placed throughout all facilities.

All things I have wanted to see happen anyways.
AMC tried this for a short time. They were only selling every other seat, and this particular theater I attend already has the premium comfy seating etc. That didn't last long before they went into full shutdown.

It's the same here in UK. All of the main chains, Odeon, Vue, Picturehouse & Cineworld have all closed their doors, and no doubt the independants are taking similar steps.

As someone who has been making weekly (if not multple times per week) visits, this has come as a significant knock - not simply for going to the movies, but for the many staff, many of whom I know by name, and their unknown circumstances. I have no idea how any of them are getting on, and many may see an usher etc simply as an usher, but I do think about all of those people - and that is just at the particular cinema that I frequent, let alone the entire industry.

So, I am not concerned in the slightest about Hollywood's ability to make bank - they have and will always find a way to make money - and nor am I worried about when and how will get to sit through the many films that will be either backlogged for release or be put through for digital release. The thing about doing business like that is a question of once all of this is resolved, is how to put the genie back in the bottle.

And it is for this reason that I think of the many people that have worked at the cinema I attend, and have aided and assisted me so many times over the years. In all honesty, I do genuinely miss them, and the banter that we have. I think of those people and have no idea if they are alright, if they will be able to return to work, if they even will have work to go back to.

Just the other day I was thinking about how the pandemic would change theaters showing movies. I think we'll see a new form of the Roadshow theatrical release Only now the new deluxe premiers of movies will be a prestigious live streaming event, where if you pay a premium 'ticket' price, you'll see the new movie first on premiere week and you'll get live presentations by the actors involved in the the privilege to rewatch the new release anytime you want before it's general release to the streaming public.

Good riddance to all the overpriced snacks and 90 minutes of ads.

Welcome to the human race...
A small price to pay for the theatrical experience.
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