You Can Still Watch Movies Together While Social Distancing

People are stuck at home, but the communal experience doesn’t have to end. There are many tools for watching movies while social distancing.
Watching Movies At Home
By  · Published on March 21st, 2020

There’s still no telling how long it will take for the coronavirus pandemic to get under control or how long we’ll be encouraged to participate in social distancing. And with so many studios postponing their big releases and movie theaters temporarily closing as a result, the simple pleasure that is hitting the multiplex and watching a movie on the big screen with a crowd is no longer an option. However, that hasn’t stopped some distributors, theater chains, and streaming platforms from trying to replicate the communal experience in a virtual format.

Deadline reports that Kino Lorber is launching a theatrical exhibition experiment called Kino Marquee. The purpose behind this initiative is to allow movie theaters to continue generating revenue during these uncertain times, while also catering to audiences who crave the moviegoing experience that they’re currently being deprived of, albeit from the comfort of their own homes.

But how does it work?

The initiative has been designed to emulate the theater experience as much as possible. Movies will be screened from Fridays to Thursdays and will be available to view from special virtual screening rooms. It will cost customers $12 to access each movie for now, and they will receive a link to the relevant screening room upon purchasing a ‘ticket.’

The first Kino Marquee screenings are in collaboration with New York’s Film at Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music and Jacob Burns Film Center, though 12 theaters have reportedly signed up so far. The initiative will kick off with Kino Lorber’s Bacurau, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes. Other titles will be available in the coming weeks as well.

Wendy Liddel, the SVP of Theatrical Distribution at Kino Lorber, hopes this model will be beneficial for all parties involved. Distributors and theaters need to make money to stay afloat, while movie fans can still enjoy new releases that would be hitting screens soon anyway.

“Of course we wanted to find a way to keep our current film release in front of audiences, but to do so in a way that would also benefit our exhibition partners. We want to help ensure that these theaters will be able to reopen their doors after this crisis passes. The Kino Marquee program offers an opportunity for theaters to generate revenue while their doors are closed.”

Oscilloscope Laboratories is also making efforts to help theaters through this pandemic, while also providing movies for audiences to enjoy during the social distancing process. As documented by Variety, the company has unveiled a promotion — dubbed Circle of Quarantine — which offers 10 digital downloads of its films for $49.99. Furthermore, $10 from every purchase will be donated to the Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund, to aid those who have been affected by the crisis.

Similarly, Vudu will also be hosting viewing parties in an effort to bring the theatrical experience to stuck-at-home movie fans looking for some interaction with likeminded people. These parties are real-time events in which viewers all watch a movie hosted by the platform at the same time, chat with each other on social media, and learn interesting bits of trivia about the movie. The latest viewing party is dedicated to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and Chewbacca himself, Joonas Suamtamo, will be in attendance.

Netflix is also trying something similar with the Netflix Party extension, which allows friends to watch movies and shows at the same time online. After the group decides on what to watch together, the tool synchronizes playback and opens up a group chat for them to communicate. This is what movies like 6 Underground were made for.

These are scary times right now, and the movie industry is going to take some hits in the coming months. However, it’s encouraging to see some entities are making the most of a bad situation and finding unique ways to support theaters and fans alike. Nothing beats the rush of watching a new movie in a dark room on a giant screen, but these alternatives are an enticing alternative that could have life beyond this pandemic.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.