The Experience of a Movie

This year I saw Sonic the Hedgehog and it was the last movie I attended in the theaters. That was in February before the whole national pandemic thing, and it was at the AMC near the UIS campus. However, it was not the last movie that I have seen since then. In fact, I have invested loads of time watching movies during my downtime, new ones such as Cats or Spiderman: Homecoming, to even re-watching classics like The Room and Mad Max: Fury Road. My movie library has since grown with Amazon Prime, and my watched list is becoming a filled catalog. But there is still something that seems to be missing from the experience of watching all of these movies.

            I realize that, after many months of lockdown with entertainment services closed, the theater was not so much a way to watch a movie as a way to enjoy the experience of seeing one. It was always one thing to watch a movie in the living room, sitting on the floor and chilling with family, but another to sit in front of the big screen in their comfortable (or uncomfortable) seating and having your ears blown out.

But why are the experiences so differing from one another? It can possibly be described as going out and spending time away from the house with loved ones or it can also be the theaters offering a much different viewing experience than sitting at home. Certain theaters tend to be comfortable, with state-of-the-art audio and screens that give some of the best viewing experiences possible. But even at the most terrible movie theaters, it was a way for people to go out, have fun and just enjoy a day out with others.

            With theaters gone, many studios have begun to publish straight onto streaming services or DVD. Companies like Disney realize that it makes them more money to publish it on their streaming service, as more people subscribe and stick with them in order to wait around for the next film to come out. Theaters now have become a strangely desolate area, with hardly a car in the parking lot and most of the February to March posters still up – yes, even the Sonic the Hedgehog ones. It is almost jarring to see, but inevitable that people can no longer experience attending the movie theaters with the pandemic in full swing.

Although I understand that some theaters are open, it is impossible to tell how many will remain open while others continue to keep closed. More than that, it is impossible to tell if studios, companies (or both) will even decide to distribute new releases into movie theaters. Time will only tell if theaters will continue to thrive after the pandemic. With the way things are going, I believe that many theaters will never be able to make a comeback.