More Movie Theaters Bite the Dust

The COVID pandemic is definitely taking its toll on the cinema industry here. Showcase Cinema in Revere, MA, our local go-to theater, just shut its doors on Sunday night. I didn’t even have a chance to say "goodbye’. Apparently they’re gong to turn into an Amazon hub.

Salem Cinema in Salem, MA, after weathering several near-fatal blows in recent years, finally succumbed and is closed for good.

Hollywood Hits up on Route 1 closed a couple of years ago. I can’t blame it on COVID, but it’s still annoying.

There are still a couple of theater complexes nearby, but they’re further away. And there’s always Boston. But this pandemic seems to have accelerated a move to direct streaming of movies to the home.

That’s too bad – I’ll miss the Big Screen wide-screen move experience.

I used to love going to the movies so much. But lately my interest has really diminished.

I think it is the combo of sitting at home with a 65" TV and stereo on my recliner and the lack of originality or creativeness in most movies now. We’re in a bad period for movies I feel. Very little original stories and super heavy on studios trying to find a blockbuster franchise.

From what I’ve read, the issue lately isn’t so much lack of audience, as it’s lack of movies to show. A local movie chain (Alamo Drafthouse) mothballed a bunch of locations recently for that very reason- they had decent enough audiences to keep the lights on, but with the streaming releases and delayed releases, they didn’t have much of anything new to show at the theater.

Of course, Alamo is a bit of a different animal, in that they’re one of the trailblazers of the whole “dinner-and-a-movie” concept where they are half restaurant/bar, and half movie theater, where you can go see the latest blockbuster, but sit in a recliner while you drink beer and eat food.

Around here, the big bloodletting among normal movie theaters happened about 10-15 years ago, because a whole bunch shut down about then, and since then, it’s been a handful of extremely large megaplexes, and a couple of the “dinner-and-a-movie” chains. I’m guessing streaming and excessive costs are what did it.

There were a ton of original and creative films released in 2019 that had nothing to do with blockbuster franchises. 2020 would have been the same.

There have been so few original or creative films this year that I wonder what will be in contention for the Academy Awards.

And as for failing movie theaters, I’ve heard that AMC Theaters, the biggest chain in the world, is on the verge of closing entirely. (I also heard that Amazon was interested in buying AMC, which would be interesting.)

I agree with this. I know that some may say that this is just getting old and crotchety, but new movies just suck. And I’m not waxing nostalgic for a bygone era; I’m talking about a few years ago. A few years ago, my wife and I could decide to stay home and “watch a movie.” We would peruse the new releases, see something interesting with a top name actor, pay our $5.99 and enjoy ourselves. Maybe the movie was excellent, or maybe it wasn’t up to par, but most of the time we could pick a good one.

Now, it seems like they all just absolutely suck. Can’t pick a single one. Even top stars are putting out absolute garbage.

As far as theaters, I haven’t gone to one (that was not for the benefit of a child) since 2005 or 2006 when I saw Star Wars Episode III. I mean, what does the theater offer me? I have a nice TV, sound system, and I can sit in my chair, eating whatever food I want, having a beer or a mixed drink if I want, pause it and use the restroom, and not pay the outrageous prices at the theater.

Sure, the market has responded by having those dinner places with a bar where you can have a meal and watch a movie, but then you are talking BIG money for something, again, I can get at home for much less.

I think the only thing the theater is good for is if you are 15 or 16 and can make out with your boyfriend/girlfriend in the back row. I just don’t see the draw.

Again, there are tons of films released each year. If you are unable to find something good, that’s on you. In Jan-Feb of this year before the theaters closed I saw 19 original non-sequel non-franchise films. In 2019 I saw 88 non-sequel non-franchise films.

Saying “all movies nowadays suck” is just ill informed nonsense.

The problem is lack of promotion. The advertising budgets match the production budgets for the franchise films, but smaller movies can’t get noticed. This has ever been true, but the divide is widening. On top of that, action spectacle works better on a big screen than small dramas or comedies do, which just suit home viewing better.

So the non-cookie cutter movies are still being made, and some of them are undoubtedly good, but they just get lost and unseen.

I didn’t go to movies often pre-COVID due to budgetary constraints, but I liked going. I like being somewhere where the entire experience was focused on the movie–no dogs asking to be let out, no emptying the dishwasher or calling to the kids it’s bedtime. I like sharing the experience with an audience. Your big screen TV and recliner may be comfy, but when you and the spouse laugh, you laugh alone.

And I agree with Eyebrows. There’ve been some terrific movies in the last 5-10 years. Off the top of my head, I was impressed by 12 Years a Slave, Lincoln, Lady Bird, 42, Argo, The Post, and Last Days in Vietnam. I wasn’t terribly impressed with Darkest Hour but thought Gary Oldman’s performance was worth the price of admission. I could probably think of others with more time.

No, you are getting old and crotchety. Hell, even if you only look at the movies nominated for Best Picture the last couple years, all of them are very good. And I’d argue they are better than the ones from 10 years ago.

The closing of cinemas is a somber fact that affects me personally. I have worked for years as a projectionist but since March have been in a sort of forced retirement. I work for an independently owned movie house in suburban Boston that has struggled in the best of times. Amazingly, it is still operating, on weekends only and with the owner basically running the whole operation himself, meaning he books the films, sets up the schedule and sells the popcorn personally.

Now, the town has mandated a three-week closure, which means no benefit from holiday openings, such as they are. But audiences have been thin, which is understandable even with policies in place such as assigned seating to keep people apart and limits on number of tickets sold. We booked Tenet in the summer - I went to see it on a Saturday night the week after it opened, and there were less than a dozen paying customers.

I’m hoping to get back to work someday, but the question is, what will it take to lure people back when the pandemic is over? The trend of movie fans watching at home was already well established; distributors were already on board with shorter windows of exclusive content for exhibitors, and with the bad luck of Covid now forcing the issue I wonder what the future will look like.

Even before COVID the only reason I went to a theater was for movies that were better in a theater. Big spectacle blockbusters. Star Wars and Marvel basically. Comedies? better at home, romance? better at home, drama? better at home. Something like Tenet was already pushing it, I’m glad I saw it at home because it was bad.

Better for you at home, you mean. I reject the idea that a movie has to a big, widescreen epic to be suitable for experiencing on a big screen.