Are Movie Theaters Dying Out?

in category of Movies, Audra Rundle

Despite the theaters being packed with blockbuster movies filled with star-studded line-ups and plenty of action (of all variety), the attendance to movie theaters this summer was the lowest in a decade. There isn’t just one obvious answer as to why, but a combination of alternative technology entertainment and world events likely had something to do with it.

Studio executives assumed it was a “gimme” that this would be a record-setting summer with all the superhero flicks and movies with huge names (such as Tom Cruise), but we all know what assuming makes out of “U” and “Me”…alas, attendance to movie theaters was down. A lot.

It should be clarified that attendance and revenue are not the same thing. The revenue this summer was actually quite impressive (the second best of all time), but the actual number of individuals hauling their butts to the theaters was less than impressive – and for the moviemakers, the downward spiral in attendance is downright concerning.

The summer movie-going season is counted from the first weekend in May through Labor Day weekend. Attendance to movies this summer was below 550 million, making it 3 percent lower than last summer and the lowest number since 1993!

So what gives? Where have all the people gone?

Honestly, I think the movie theater experience is becoming outdated. Just like drive-ins – despite being utterly awesome – eventually died out because newer and more exciting ways to watch movies developed. Nowadays, we can watch movies from the comfort of…anywhere. We can download and catch a flick from our phones, iPad, desktop, laptop, or – oh yeah – or our televisions.

The vast array of ways to watch a movie allows us to create our ideal viewing environments. For me, the ideal way to watch a movie is in my PJs, on my couch, snuggled up with my family and a bowl of ice cream. Others may like watching movies while on the bus or train commuting to work, or perhaps during a flight, or even creating a romantic (and creative) date by watching the latest RomCom on your iPad on a private picnic blanket in the park. The possibilities and locations for movie watching are pretty much endless.

Another far less exciting reason for lowered attendance could be from fear after the horrific shooting spree at the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater during the first showing of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. A full theater of innocent people just wanting to catch a summer blockbuster ended in twelve people shot dead and 58 more injured. That was enough to keep me out of the theaters the rest of the summer.  

Other reasons the movie attendance was down over the summer may not have anything to do with the movie or the theaters at all. It may be as simple that there are so many other forms of entertainment involving a screen in the world today. Back in our parents’ day, going to the theaters was different than the everyday experience – something fun to shake the week up. Today, however, there are so many new forms of media and entertainment that watching a movie on a large screen has lost much of it’s novelty.

Whatever the reason(s), it’s always a bit sad to see a form of recreation beginning to fall to the wayside of newer technology. By the time today’s children are in charge, it’s likely that movie theaters won’t even exist, as they will be replaced by virtual reality experiences from your own home, experiences and concerts in your living room via hologram, or some thing else that hasn’t been invented yet. Only time will tell.


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