To start this blog post off, I want to be blunt about something, I hate pessimism. It drives me nuts seeing people being so damn pessimistic, but I have to do something I hate. I have to be pessimistic today. The sad truth, as someone that loves the cinema, we may be losing the heartbeat of the movie watching experience.
Today, Warner Bros and HBO Max announced that all films scheduled to come out in 2021 will premiere on HBO Max, the same day they are released in movie theaters. Which, yes I will admit from a safety perspective, this is a smart move. It will keep people home during this pandemic, as it is not necessary to risk our lives for entertainment. But, on the flip side, this may permanently hurt movie theaters and the overall movie viewing experience.
First let’s start with how important the movie theater is to the movie watching experience. I want you to think of a movie that you saw in a theater. Now think of the same film, but watching it on your couch. Did you have the same reaction, you had while watching it in the movie theater? I may be wrong with this assumption, but I bet it was a different experience. I can recall the first time seeing Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith when I was 13, my dad and I had so much energy after watching that and telling my mom “This was the greatest Star Wars film ever.” This excitement and passionate response would had never happened, sitting on a couch eating Flamin Hot Cheetos.
Also, I believe something like the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be hurt by the disappearance of movie theaters. I will never forget the feeling after viewing Avengers: Infinity War, we ate our half-off appetizers at Applebees in complete silence because we all felt like we lost a loved one. Also the feeling of Captain America wielding Mjolnir during the Climax of Avengers: Endgame and having the entire movie theater pop from their seats. These are moments that will disappear from the movie watching experience, we will lose that connection.
As I sit here and type this blog, I cannot think of a moment over the last nine months of watching movies from home where there was not some sort of distraction. Our phones are always near us at home, we don’t feel the need to turn off our phones to enjoy the film like we do at the theater. We get distracted easier and end up watching a film half assed, because of Twitter or Facebook. Most of the time, I find myself scrolling through IMDB and missing an important plot thread of a film. It is easier said than done, to simply turn off your mind while at home and enjoy a film for what it is.
Hopefully sometime in the future, rather it be late 2021 or sometime in 2022, I believe that we could still have that movie experience, but the threat of people becoming contempt with viewing a film from the comfort of their own home, is real. Truth be told, I hope that it is only WB that makes this decision and Disney does not follow them. If they do, it will be the end of the movie theater.
But after this semi-lengthy bitchfest, let’s all try to be optimistic and think about when it will be safe again. To watch a film with a bunch of strangers and to share that moment of joy or sadness that a film can produce, together. Of course, I am excited to watch Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day with the Christmas tree on in the background with Nora and I cuddling on the couch. Let’s hope I am wrong about film losing their magic, because that truly could be a magical moment. Who knows maybe we will adapt to this new method of movie watching and be able to find that sweet spot, where we can enjoy the magic of cinema in our homes. But we also don’t want to think of telling people in the future about the movie theater experience and what it once was.