Is watching a movie in a theater a “luxury”?

While reading news, articles and blog posts, a daily activity, I came across a thought-provoking comment on a Yahoo piece, which is pictured above as the the third comment by Arrownoir.

The first comment pictured above is also interesting. The fourth comment by Michelle sort of echoes some polling that some (many?) will be afraid of movie theaters when they reopen. This is another reason I’m less concerned about getting sick at the movie theater. The fewer the people who go, the safer they will be. We tried to stay away from crowds at the theater even before there was a pandemic. It’s like eating at a restaurant that just had a food outbreak, trust me that after they reopen they are way safer than they probably ever had been. When movie theaters first reopen, assuming there aren’t a rush of moviegoers going, they will be about as safe as they ever can and will be in the current environment.

But back to the comment in question.

The commenter considers movies to be a “luxury.” While considering that question for a moment, let’s look at the article itself which deals with the almost Russian Roulette nature of movies moving around on the calendar and what will lead to the best box office performance.

Yet even with the understanding that the calendar could be as tentative as plans for leading film festivals and awards shows, there are still a number of oddities that otherwise would make studio CEOs question the sanity of their distribution and marketing teams.

Studios May Try but Certain Release Schedule Rules Can’t Be Broken

All statistics and data need to be thrown out in these current times. There are just too many unknowns to predict what moviegoers will or won’t do when theaters finally do reopen. Even though they are set to open at the end of July, I’d say it’s at best a coin flip if they won’t push back opening even further.

I don’t want them to do that (unless it is unsafe, of course), but the reality is the virus numbers are returning en masse, people are fighting against wearing masks and other social distancing policies and, no surprise, more people are getting sick. This is leading to some local and state governments rolling back their phased reopening plans to March and April rules.

This directly impacts the likelihood of movie theaters reopening. We’re only 19 days away as of this writing, but again, I’m not sure the big three chains will open as planned at the end of the July.

Not even sure if they should.

The National Theater Association (NATO is their acronym) is taking their complaint to court in New Jersey that if churches can open movie theaters — presumably the House of Cinematic Holy — should be able to do so as well.

“By this Complaint, Plaintiffs challenge Defendants’ unconstitutional and unlawful distinctions in allowing certain places of public assembly to reopen, while requiring movie theatres to remain closed,” states a complaint being led by the National Association of Theatre Owners of New Jersey. “COVID-19 represents a serious public health risk, and Plaintiffs support fair and reasonable actions by the government to address that risk. However, the government-mandated total closure of movie theatres is neither fair nor reasonable, and is instead a violation of Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, Equal Protection of the laws, Due Process under the law, and is a Taking of property without just compensation.”

Movie Theater Giants Sue New Jersey Over “Unconstitutional” COVID-19 Closures

Not going to touch comparing assembling for religious purposes vs. attending a movie in a theater for entertainment purposes, lest lightning strikes me during the next thunderstorm.

If the theaters can’t reopen in some areas, or perhaps most areas, it would mean that the big three theater chains would push back reopening yet again. This would follow another round of movie date delays with the two leading titles, Tenet and Mulan being delayed again to, who knows when next. The domino effect.

So, when we consider this with the comment mentioned at the start of this post, watching movies in theaters does appear to be a luxury. The commenter did qualify with “people are preoccupied with important stuff right now.”

That “important stuff” could be working in these trying times, or trying to get back to work, or being sick and/or otherwise unable to work. The unemployment rate a year ago was around 3.5%, the last month’s numbers were at 11%+. Down from a high of almost 14% but still, not good. Not good at all.

Yes, watching movies in theaters is a luxury under these conditions. If we didn’t have these times and people weren’t still getting sick in record numbers, I’d push back against this comment. Now, I’m just wanting to see these numbers go back down again. If opening theaters makes this any worse, then they should remain closed. I’ve been in favor of theaters opening when it is safe to do so since the beginning. It just doesn’t seem “safe” right now.

Will it be any different in 19 days? I don’t know.

Last thought. Readers might recall me saying I’ve been torn on how casinos can be any safer than movie theaters. They can’t and aren’t. If one is open should the other be? No. Nevada just closed bars in casinos, because that will improve the social distancing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of cases increase that they don’t shut that down too.

We might be looking at Fall or Winter 2020 before movie theaters get reopened and back to any sort of sense of normalcy. Maybe even it won’t be until 2021 and beyond. Nevermind movies in theater, life being normal as it was before the pandemic seems like a luxury right now.

3 thoughts on “Is watching a movie in a theater a “luxury”?

  1. I one hundred percent agree with that first comment. I’ve been exceedingly lucky the last couple of years to have an open schedule and good income and even going to the early show in my area… not cheap. I worry its only going to get worse and know I’m still luckier than most. And that doesn’t even take into account fear of the virus.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, these are very uncertain times. The financial aspect of movies and intentionally overpriced concessions the way they were almost certainly will contribute to less moviegoers attending based on budgetary reasons. Not even getting into the social distancing, masks and other pandemic-related reasons.

      There are something like 38 wide release movies planned to release in theaters the remainder of the year as of this comment, I’ll be surprised if even half that many movies actually make it into theaters in 2020.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Is it luxury? Well, I always thought it was. Most people don’t really understand that though, and I’ve come across many an uncaring and obnoxious moviegoer who think that they’re just lounging at home.

    Going to the cineplex, even if it’s fairly cheap for individuals, is still a luxury. Its an experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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