By Jaclyn Kotora, Contributing Writer (‘23)

As an effect of COVID-19, movie theaters have been forced to close, and many entertainment companies have resorted to releasing their content on streaming for business. Not only has COVID-19 killed the movie theater business, but millions of people have turned to services like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Prime Video, and HBO Max to enjoy entertainment from the comfort and safety of their own homes. The shift to streaming during the pandemic poses the big question: will audiences still gravitate toward movie theaters over streaming after the pandemic? 

For some, theaters offer an experience and a nostalgia that streaming can’t compete with. Current sophomore at Indian Hills High School, Katrina Melissas, said, “After the pandemic, I would rather go to the theaters. After being in our houses for so long and being so far from normal, it would be nice to have that experience again. Although going to the movies is expensive, between tickets and snacks, it’s really the experience that counts in the end.”

Conversely, some decide that watching from home can be much more peaceful and relaxing. While movie theaters do offer an immersive viewing experience, streaming – through its convenience, comfort, and security – challenges the theater industry. Tara Flynn, a sophomore at Indian Hills High School, shares, “I believe that there are many benefits of streaming that we don’t see…streaming services really allow you to watch whatever you want, whenever you want. I feel like there is safety in watching from home even before corona. I think for the most part I would continue streaming rather than going to the theater.”

However, as the world gradually returns to a state of normalcy, movie theater companies expect business to continue to push forward but with the magnified competition with streaming services. According to Anthony Palomba, assistant professor of business administration at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, many theater companies must consider how to maximize the audience’s experience to pull in more customer service. Some of these improvements may include additional content, an upgraded food and drink menu, more comfortable seating, or different viewing styles.

Despite the adaptations theaters might have to make to appeal to new audiences, many companies are confident in the experience they are selling. Marc H. Simon, an American filmmaker and entertainment attorney, explains in an interview with MarketWatch, “People have been sounding the death knell for [the] cinema for a long time, and cinema has always survived. The communal experience of going with friends and loved ones to a dark room with a big screen and the smell of popcorn is too powerful to die.”

It seems, for the time being, that movie theaters are here to stay. Cinema companies are working to maximize the audience’s enjoyment to regain business lost during the pandemic. However, streaming services will continue uploading new entertainment for viewers to enjoy in the safety of their homes. Whatever you may prefer, streaming or theaters, there is something for everyone.