Streaming or cinema? The impact of Covid-19 and the future of cinema


Streaming or cinema?  The impact of Covid-19 and the future of cinema

There is nothing quite like going to the movies. While you can watch a movie from the comfort of your home, venturing out to the movies is always a fun experience. It doesn’t matter whether the movie you see is good or bad, but sitting in a dark room with many people present and when the lights in the house go out you know it’s show time. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the human population and businesses. It was announced on March 18, 2020 that all AMC theaters will be closed due to the increase in cases related to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was a devastating blow to the company and to the public who missed out on the “cinema experience”.

Now, I am mentioning AMC Theaters simply because they are the largest chain of theaters in the world. According to a report published by Variety, AMC Entertainment lost $ 4.6 billion in total net losses in 2020 alone. After all theaters closed, box office sales plummeted and many films remained in limbo. In reality, Bad boys for life was the highest grossing film in 2020 with sales reaching just over $ 200 million. Compare that to Avengers Endgame which grossed $ 850 million in the United States. From March through August, AMC theaters were closed, leaving many wondering if the movies were ever going to return. This resulted in the next best thing… streaming from home.

So, looking back, how have AMC theaters fared since they reopened? As the number of cases declined and vaccination rates increased, more and more people returned to theaters; but now that business is picking up, what does the future hold? And what is really better; going to the theater or streaming at home?


As said before, AMC theaters took a heavy hit after their theaters closed. What was supposed to last only six to twelve weeks turned into almost five months of lost revenue and audiences missed out on the biggest movies. For example, Fast and Furious 9, Black Widow and Godzilla vs. Kong were among the biggest movies that were delayed until 2021. While each of the aforementioned films performed well in terms of sales, they don’t compare to the usual summer releases of previous years.

With AMC bleeding dry, Universal Pictures has offered to release movies on demand after a release on streaming platforms. A win-win for the public, but AMC was not happy with the deal initially. It wasn’t until July 2020 that the dispute was finally settled and an agreement was reached. HBOMAX, Amazon Prime, Disney +, Netflix, and many other streaming services have started releasing movies on demand after hitting theaters. HBOMAX had the greatest films such as Godzilla vs. Kong and Wonder Woman 1984. It seemed like a solid idea, but in reality the movie industry is suffering from streaming.

Simply put, to understand this, when you go to the movies to buy a ticket, that ticket goes straight to the box office to record the sale of that movie. With streaming, one person pays the subscription while others can join in and watch the movie. In essence, streaming is a good alternative to fighting the virus but in terms of activity it is hurting the film industry.

While demand is a cool feature, I’ve heard complaints from my friends when they talk about the prices of movies to rent, or more specifically, the astronomical prices to rent or own a movie on Disney +. It’s mostly about fighting the price drop for 2020 and while paying $ 30 for a movie on Disney + might seem tough, at the very least, you’re paying a lot more by going to the movies. So, mentioning this, how have the prices of theaters changed?

The future

One of the ways that AMC theaters have survived is by reducing the number of shows they play, increasing the price of tickets to fifty cents from the national average for a movie ticket, which is about 10 dollars, and increase the prices at the concession stands.

While theaters are shutting down, AMC has installed improved air filtration systems and employees wear disinfectant sprays when the movie ends so the theater can be properly cleaned at the next show. Movie theaters have a rule that attendees must wear a face covering if they are not vaccinated, but if you are vaccinated, masks do not apply to you.

With the recent increase in cases due to the spread of the Delta variant across the country, no new guidelines have been announced recently. When theaters first opened, auditoriums only allowed forty percent capacity to allow for social distancing, and face coverings were required at the time. Personally, I liked walking into a theater where social distancing was enforced. I was able to stretch out and enjoy my space. While in all fairness I miss the experiences of a crowded theater as well.

While it’s a treat to return to the theater, the box office itself hasn’t seen the massive influx of sales either. This could be attributed to participants’ fear of going to the movies when the infection rate increases, or the availability of home streaming. In terms of sales in North America, Black Widow made just $ 176 million, the highest grossing film in the United States at the moment.

It is not certain whether the movie industry will survive the pandemic, but according to a recent report AMC did better than expected in the third quarter. While Black Widow worked well, another movie recently proved its worth at the box office and that is Suicide squad, which opened for a modest return of $ 26 million, the highest opening for an R-Rated film this year. In the same way Mortal combat, R-Rated features bring people back to the theater. I think it’ll be a slow start to start seeing revenue from years past, but other big movies slated for release later this year might give us a prediction of how theaters might just come in winter.

Some of the greatest films include Dune, No Time to Die, Halloween Kills, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Matrix 4 and The king’s man. The latter two will more than likely be rated R and have a large fan base. It’s nice to see theaters reopen, but if I had to make a prediction, it will take over a year or maybe two to see the usual high opening weekends like they were a year ago. just under two years.

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Streaming or Theater?

So which do you prefer? According to most of my friends, they enjoy the comforts of home and in some cases movies are cheaper to rent or buy. Personally, I will always prefer the theater. It’s something that I grew up around and something that is close to my heart. It doesn’t matter if you have a home theater system in your home, you just can’t match the theater experience, let alone the crowds. Anyone who remembers the excitement of the crowd in Avengers Endgame? You can’t get it at home.

In business terms, streaming is hurting the film industry, but it was a good alternative to the pandemic. Sure, I love watching movies at home, but nothing beats leaving home to see something new. Over the years, streaming has accelerated among subscribers, and even drive-ins have also made a comeback during the pandemic.

In reality, it will take a long time for the movie industry to recoup the revenue it once had before the pandemic and the fact that AMC theaters were able to survive despite the loss of billions in sales is a sigh of relief. We often take movie theaters for granted and after almost seeing them sink, we should especially appreciate them following this pandemic that has touched us all. Whether you prefer to stay at home or venture outside, we’ll always look forward to what’s happening next to a theater near you. We hope to see you at the movies!


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