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If They Can Survive the Pandemic, Movie Theaters Might Be Here to Stay

Reports of the death of movie theaters have been greatly exagerated.
The Black Stallion movie theater scene
United Artists
By  · Published on January 14th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on why movie theaters are going to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have strong feelings about movies, there’s a good chance you have strong feelings about movie theaters. Whether or not you (yes, you) feel that movie theaters are the “best” way to watch a film, most cinephiles can agree that having the choice to watch a film in theaters is important.

As you’re all surely aware, COVID-19 made an already sticky situation that much stickier. Even if you were the kind of filmgoer partial to cinematic exhibition, all the things that made movie theaters so magical (the shared experience, the intimacy, the irreplicable thrill of seeing a film for the first time with a room full of strangers) now posed a threat. For of us who were already wringing our hands pre-pandemic about the state of theatrical exhibition, the pandemic felt like a death knell.

I’ll be the first to admit that the specifics of why the pandemic was bad news for movie theaters boiled down to “people staying home means fewer butts in seats.” This is why I’m grateful for the following video essay, which brings the heart of the matter into clear, unambiguous focus.

The pandemic had a direct effect on the theatrical window, which is to say: the period of time in which a film is only available in theaters. The theatrical window has been shrinking over the years as the home market has become increasingly sophisticated. And the pandemic forced an answer to the nagging question of just how much smaller the window could get without hammering the final nail into the proverbial coffin of theatrical exhibition.

I’ll let the video lay things out in greater detail, but suffice to say: we finally got an answer to the nerve-wracking question of if theaters and on-demand could co-exist. And it wasn’t the result many of us pessimists were expecting. If movie theaters can survive the global pandemic, perhaps their continued existence is less precarious than we’d feared.

Watch “Why movie theaters aren’t dead yet”:

Who made this?

This video about the state of movie theaters during the pandemic is by Vox, an American news website owned by Vox Media, founded in 2014. Vox produces videos on news, culture, and everything in between. This video was produced by Edward Vega with art direction by Dion Lee and story editing by Adam Freelander You can subscribe to Vox on YouTube here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.