The Decline and Fall of the Theatrical Experience

The theatrical movie going experience as we know it is dead, and my theatrical movie going behavior is helping to seal its fate. I am a 100% died in the wool movie lover and personally enjoy watching movies in theatres. The problem is that I don’t go to the movies nearly as much as I used to, and I cannot see this changing any time in the foreseeable future. Let me tell you why…

Today I have a basic internal calculus I use to determine whether I see a movie in a theater vs waiting to see it on a streaming platform. The first part of this calculus begins with the question:” Is this a movie that is best enjoyed on the big screen?”  I guess what I really mean is: “Is this a SPECTACLE movie?” Examples of movies that fit this bill, and that I watched in theatres in 2022, are: Top Gun: Maverick, Bullet Train, Black Panther: Wakanda and finally in a few days the new Avatar sequel. In my mind each these films represent the type of spectacle films that I will show up for.

The second criteria in my theatrical vs streaming calculus resides in this question: “How long am I going to need to wait before I can watch this film at home?” For The Fablemans the answer is clear. Not too long!  The Fablemans was released “wide” theatrically few short weeks ago and is available to stream at home NOW, albeit with a $20.00 rental fee.  What I also know is in around 30 days this film will show up on one of my paid services for “free” and that is the most likely time I will view it.  Let me say this… If you told me that I wouldn’t rush to see a new STEVEN SPIELBERG film opening weekend I would tell you that you were crazy, plain, and simple. 

It is the second part of my calculus that is contributing to the decline of movie attendance for “smaller” films. You see the entertainment industry has TRAINED its consumers to be more particular about what types of films they go out to see. Do you really want to spend north of $50.00 to see a film (popcorn and soda included in this price) or do you simply want and watch this with a (much cheaper) bag of microwave popcorn and a can of pop. We all know with certainty that the wait to see films the comfort of your home is not very long so why drag your ass out to see a film? Honestly this makes me sad, but this is the reality we live under.

I would like to mention a little ray of hope. There are some “smaller” films that I will go out of my way to see as I don’t want to wait to see them at home. This generally the result of “buzz” surrounding a film 

Two of films come to mind. The first is called The Menu. I heard a TON of word of mouth about this one, and I left work early to catch it before it left the theatres. The second film is one I wanted to catch in a theatre but was unable to see. This film? Glass Onion. I 100% would have caught this in a theatre but Netflix only released it in theaters for ONE WEEK ONLY! The word of mouth was awesome, but my schedule was not, so I guess streaming it is for that one. 

I really wish this situation was different as I really love seeing films in theatres and will continue to do so albeit at a lower rate than I did in the past. As for the theatres themselves?  Who knows… Their business has been severely disrupted, and they are in sore need of a pivot of some type. Lets see what the future brings… The movie business has gone through multiple disruptions and it will be interesting to see what comes out on the other side of this