Column: COVID-19 could bring end to theater industry

Destiny Blanchard

We’re nearly eight months into what seems like a forever-continuing pandemic. With the restrictions on going out, we have to find other ways to entertain ourselves. Many of us have spent time binge-watching and streaming hours of shows and movies. I used Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus as a personal lifeline during the height of quarantine, just to keep from going crazy.

Using streaming services to get entertainment is the norm and is a sign of the way our entertainment industry has changed in the past several years, not just 2020. Even with the hundreds of streaming services, going to the movie theater was a common thing to do until the pandemic hit.

The majority of U.S. theaters had to close in March of 2020 and many have reopened this past August. The five-month hiatus did damage to the theater industry as they didn’t get the revenue they’re used to compared to previous summers.

Although most theaters were hoping that big blockbuster movies would be the incentive to get people back in theaters.

Unfortunately, the distributors of many of the biggest films changed their release dates at the last minute. Disney made the cutthroat decision to not release the live-action Mulan film in theaters and instead released it on their streaming platform, Disney Plus.

This shocked theaters as their plans to reopen in August were based around the release of Disney’s “Mulan.” Disney also pushed back the release of Marvel’s “Black Widow” until 2021, after it was expected to come out in theaters this November.

The only hope theaters have for big releases are Disney’s Pixar film “Soul” and MGM Studios James Bond film “No Time to Die,” both set for a November release.

Even with the blockbusters coming in November and December, theaters are experiencing fewer than normal Thanksgiving and Christmas releases compared to past years. Due to the pandemic, AMC shares have gone down 7%, IMAX down 6% and Cinemark down %3. It can only be expected that these companies’ shares continue in a downward pattern until we aren’t working through the pandemic.

All of these problems raise the question of if theatrical releases could be ending for a while or potentially forever. 2021 has become the year that will hopefully save the theater industry and if that doesn’t happen, we can expect to see our future favorite films coming out on streaming platforms. Either way, we’ll be seeing drastic changes to how we get entertainment for the foreseeable future.


Destiny Blanchard is a junior management major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]