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The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Column: Why I will never stop going to the movies

File+-+The+Music+Box+Theatre+during+the+Chicago+International+Film+Festival+on+Oct.+18.
Mary Grace Blake
File – The Music Box Theatre during the Chicago International Film Festival on Oct. 18.

We all have those sacred childhood memories of settling into the comfy red seats, a bucket of popcorn taller than we could see over in our lap and the everlasting excitement of the lights dimming. Movie theaters are a cultural and social gathering place, and now, they are becoming less and less significant due to the surge of streaming services. 

According to the Michigan Journal of Economics, the total number of screens in the U.S.  decreased by around 3,000 since 2019. Covid-19 also did an irreversible amount of damage to smaller, local theaters. In-person cinemas closed for almost two years, and most small, locally-owned theaters had to close. 

The rise in streaming services also poses a substantial threat to non-chain cinemas, because it takes away their purpose. When a new popular movie comes out, most people would rather wait until it comes onto Netflix, Hulu and HBO Max instead of spending the money on a ticket to see it in the theaters. Why would people want to spend $10 on a ticket, $15 on snacks when they could watch it in the comfort of their own home? 

I remember when Netflix first became popular, and I was so excited when my family finally got a subscription. Being able to watch so many shows and movies online felt like heaven. Now, it doesn’t even cross my mind as I death-scroll through Netflix, Hulu, Prime, HBO Max and Disney+. It feels so typical to automatically watch movies that way, and I find myself not experiencing them as much. I guess I contradict myself regarding this topic since I preach going to the theater and want to support them so much, but 90% of the time, when I watch a new movie, it’s on a streaming service. 

Streamers started to produce their own shows and movies, with animated series’ leading the pack. In 2019, Netflix surpassed Disney by spending $1.1 billion on animated originals (Forbes), “Bojack Horseman” and “Big Mouth” being examples. 

Maybe it’s just because I study film and love everything about them, but I believe there is something so personal and special about going to see movies in the theater. It might be nostalgia or the quality of sound and visuals, but it just feels different. I remember seeing “Frozen” on my 11th birthday, watching “Don’t Worry Darling” on opening night, and remembering the experience more than simply going down to my basement and watching on the TV. 

Along with going to theaters, I urge people to go to small, locally-owned theaters. Trust me, there are more in your area than you think, and I always feel better giving my ticket money to them than to a big chain theater. Back home in Columbus, I loved visiting my local theater. They always decorated for big premieres and had the best food. The tickets were also typically cheaper, and I felt community there. I most recently went to see “Barbie” there, a few weeks before I moved to Chicago, and it was one of my favorite theater experiences ever. The place was totally decked out in pink, there was exclusive food and drinks, and everyone, including the theater employees, were wearing outfits for the film. Going to locally owned theaters supports the community and is an amazing way to see movies that aren’t a giant chain. 

This summer, there was also a “Barbienheimer” bump, increasing the number of people at theaters. “Barbie” became the first film directed by a woman to hit $1 billion at the box office, and did it within two weeks. Many cinemas had double features, drawing in a lot of traffic. I hadn’t seen this many people flock to the theaters since “Top Gun: Maverick” or “Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse.” It seems that big Marvel blockbusters are the only thing keeping theaters alive these days, but they usually only stay at theaters for two weeks and then instantly go onto Disney+. 

Streamers and Covid-19 have altered the way people view movies and theaters will continue to die down and disappear if more people don’t take the initiative to see movies in the way they were intended. I have such an affinity for getting a giant popcorn, a cherry Icee, and experiencing movies in the theaters, and I hope others continue to go to theaters. Movies’ future depends on people’s interaction in theaters, especially for small filmmakers who can’t get their movies onto streaming services. I urge you to please take the time and support movies in theaters.

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