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Forums - Movies & TV - Covid-era moviegoing

Have you (anyone) been to a movie theater since the coronavirus hit? Like in the last couple months or so? If so, what was your experience like?

The theater nearest me reopened in mid-August and I've been a number of times now since then. I've found it kind of a bittersweet experience. Here's a rundown of how my typical experience goes:

I arrive late in the afternoon. At this hour, there would normally be a good four or five full rows of cars in the parking lot already, but instead there are more like four or five other vehicles there grand total. There's basically Tenet, some lame-looking rom-com I have no interest in, and a bunch of old movies playing. I'm there for an old movie. Since the reopening, I've seen Jurassic Park a couple times, Beetlejuice a couples, and The Empire Strikes Back, The Goonies, and Hocus Pocus once each. Haven't seen any of those in theaters since I was a kid, so they all carry some special memories for me to see theatrically (except The Goonies, which I never saw theatrically before at all). Anyway, I walk in and get my ticket, then my ritual popcorn and Dr. Pepper for $3.50 less than usual because the theater is desperate these days. There's literally nobody there but me and the very bored workers. Everything is so clean that my shoes actually squeak when I walk on the hard floor of the concession area, for instance. Like I said, the employees don't have much to do besides clean. They're also all wearing not only masks, but gloves as well, unlike at most other institutions in my observation. Anyway, despite the relatively cheap prices (by theater standards anyway), I have to pay with my debit card because they don't accept cash now, as cash transactions would involve human contact. There's no ticket taker anymore either because that too would involve human contact so I just proceed directly to the screening room for my movie.

I enter the screening room. There's nobody there and nobody comes in. They literally screen the movie just for me. I get kind of teary-eyed somewhere along the line here at just the sight of the empty room. You can't help getting the feeling that you're supporting a dying institution. Although it's precisely the absence of other people that makes me feel perfectly safe to be there, the irony is that the sight always makes me nostalgic for the social experience of theater-going that's just gone now, maybe forever. It's just not there and it makes me sad.

There's five minutes of commercials for non-film products once it's show time, then 20 to 25 minutes of movie trailers. They're really stretching themselves on the trailers, clearly anxious to show you everything they've got on the docket. Which they can preview in 20 to 25 minutes. The duration keeps getting shorter though, as more and more movies keep getting pulled from planned theatrical releases in favor or streaming-based rental releases instead, or else delayed by many months. There are fewer trailers almost every time I visit. The movie itself is fun to see in that venue! It makes me nostalgic and happy for a while. It's what keeps me coming back. Then I leave. No trouble getting out of the lot.

AMC, the largest theater chain in the U.S. (my country), has recently warned that, unless significantly more people return to theaters or the company is able to secure a major restructuring of its debt obligations, they expect to run out of cash completely within two or three months. Few major films are expected to release within that time window and those that have hit theaters since the outbreak have seen anemic returns so far, and with the nation's recent uptick in coronavirus cases, even pictures like Wonder Woman 84 could very well yet be further delayed beyond the Christmas season or just moved to a streaming release.

It feels like this is the beginning of the end for indoor cineplexes. It really does. It feels like these institutions are on life support right now, clinging to life by a thread. I'm happy to be the thread, but it just makes me sad to think that in just a few more months there may not be any movie theaters anywhere near my area anymore.

Last edited by Jaicee - on 15 October 2020

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I haven't been to a theater since March. The last film I saw was a Fathom Events showing of the 1933 King Kong. I have been longing to go back, as my wife and I were pretty avid theater goers. Your post about supporting a dying institution does make me want to have a look around at what the theaters in my area are doing right now. I've done outdoor dining a few times over the summer, and indoor dining once since that opened up. And, I've been going back into supermarkets and other stores recently, so why not?

Jaicee said:

Have you (anyone) been to a movie theater since the coronavirus hit? Like in the last couple months or so? If so, what was your experience like?

Once the numbers here dropped, and were really low (months and months ago) (june? may?) we went once.
Place was at most 1/4th of what would normally be in there.
There was a little snot nosed kid behinde me that kept on caughing, along with the smell of the soda pop (orange) that he drank.
I couldn't help but think "I hope I dont get corona here, this is so irresponcible".

Covid is like a death blow to movie theatures.
Now that infections are spikeing abit again, I wouldn't want to go tbh.

Its just the way things are, and will stay for awhile longer.

Last edited by JRPGfan - on 15 October 2020

The big cinemas in malls have suffered the most, since not only there aren't that many people around those places anymore, but there aren't decent movies to show either, they are completely out of movies. The smaller cinemas have taken it better, since they pretty much showed only locally produced cinema anyway, and it's not like that moved that much money anyway, but they still felt the hit.

You know it deserves the GOTY.

Come join The 2018 Obscure Game Monthly Review Thread.

I haven't seen a movie in cinema since 2018. Even before Coronavirus hit, I didn't see much point in going.

The last one that I saw was Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, definitely worth it. But other movies just aren't.

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I've been going to my local theater's parking lot just to chill and eat my lunch lately (I don't go in the building, I just chill in the parking lot). Not even joking or trying to be funny. The lot is just so empty these days it's become a hangout spot for me.

See 20-30 movies a year even though I have a home cinema with a 132'' screen.

Last film I saw was Tenet. Loved it, but didn't plan on visiting theatres again and now it looks like I wont be able to with my local cineworld closed. I can't see any big movies releasing this year so all I can hope for is Odeon, Vue and Cineworld and all the niche ones like Everyman, Curzon and Picture House survive till next year. Can't wait to go back.

Having said that, I'm happy for movies to hit streaming but will not pay for premium on demand £30 rentals. Those are bollocks. Been watching a lot of 50/60's movies anyway for now so fine with theatres being on hold for another 6 months as long as they survive.

I haven't been inside a movie theater since the pandemic hit, but what you describe sounds really, really sad.

Usually went 20-25 times a year. This year I haven't gone at all and dont plan to go until I have absolute certainty that the virus has been erradicated or a viable vaccine has hit the markets. If that means waiting until 2023 im fine with it.
If I were to go I imagine I'd have a similar experience to yours, which is honestly another deterrent. The way you put it sounds really sad and uncomfortable.

1998 Was the first time I experienced this phenomena of being the only person in a cinema screening.

Was awesome, jumped around seat to seat lol.

Since the pandemic my state has bee in lockdown for 265 or so days now lol. So no one goes anywhere now.