The news of Cineworld closing (albeit temporarily) all 128 cinemas in the UK and Ireland – as well as its chain of Picturehouses, which are my personal favourite, should you be wondering – could herald the death knell for the mighty movie blockbuster and, honestly, that’s got me right down in the dumps.
As you well know, should you have read my previous thoughts on the matter (thank you, regular reader, thank you), I love a good cinema.
From the popcorn to the freezing air conditioning. I love the obligatory trip up the steps as you try to find your seat, to then having to move to another seat because you got confused over which seat was really F12. Ugh, drink it in.
However, with the news that the latest James Bond film, No Time To Die, was being pushed back to 2021 – along with a swathe of other massive releases that bring in the big bucks for cinemas and studios (cough, Marvel everything, cough) – movie theatres are finding nary a reason to actually stay open right now.
And I feel for them – most people still feel pretty anxious about stepping back into a cinema while this *gestures generally* is still going on.
And for good reason.
I went to see Tenet the day it was released, and I was one of only a handful who kept their face masks on throughout the two-and-a-half-hour movie, despite several signs and adverts before the film telling us it was compulsory to keep them on.
Yeah, I know, good on me, right? A bloody hero.
How are cinemas going to make money, in a rather doomed climate, when most people can’t be bothered to wear a flippin’ piece of material over their mouth for the sake of fellow cinema punters wanting to keep the joy of movies alive?
Studios inject millions into big budget films in the hopes they’ll recoup that, and then some, once the film hits the cinema and fans pay through the teeth at the chance to catch some high-octane explosions or watch Tony Stark die on the big screen. It all gets us in the feels, man.
They’re hardly going to do that when a) films aren’t being released full stop and b) those that are, are going straight to the streaming platforms, which are making a pretty penny while we’re all cooped up inside.
Today actor Robert Powell said that if cinemas are closing during the pandemic they only have themselves to blame, which I think is a load of BS.
It’s a pandemic, did ya forget, Powelly? If an industry is thriving, be it the toilet paper, or hand sanitiser game, for instance, that is an exception to the rule.
But, perhaps more to his point, cinemas were under threat even before this Covid thing went down.
The popularity of Netflix has been on the steady ascend for some time, not just during lockdown when we had no choice but to indulge in some streaming platform entertainment, but well before, as the creator of some pretty brilliant original films.
Because why would you go and pay however-much for a ticket to see Chris Hemsworth on the big screen when you can just wait for it to land on Netflix a few months later for free?
His film Extraction netted the biggest audience of any Netflix original movie in its first four weeks, clocking 99million viewers when it was released at the height of lockdown. Would it have done so well in the cinema? Almost definitely not.
And because of that, the likes of Universal, Sony, Warner Bros et al, have no reason to pump gazillions into something if they’re not sure they’ll get it back. That’s just basic banking prowess.
Perhaps there is a silver lining in all this, though. Perhaps I won’t leave you with a negative nelly feeling in your gut. Here it is: the urge to venture out of our loungerooms and watch a film on something larger than a 40-inch is never going to go away.
Teamed with the buttery, artery-clogging delights of the candy bar (or even better, the seat-service in a plush gold service-cinema), those reclining seats with the little pokey-outey foot bit at the end, and that Dolby advert with the bass that reverberates through your very being, the experience of the cinema won’t die – it’ll just evolve. I hope so, anyway.
I feel this is the chance for cinemas to switch things up a bit, and thrive once more. Heck, pop-up cinemas are having a bit of a moment, seeing as we all have to chill outside, so maybe that’s the way to glory.
Do we even care about the massive cine-plexes that pack hundreds into one cinema? Or are we cruising towards more personalised services that often cost a little more, but make watching a film oh-so-worth it?
Much like old mate Boris keeps going on about how we’re all meant to ‘adapt’ during this period, the same goes for cinemas.
The golden era of cinema may well be back among us, if only we give it a fighting chance.
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Credit: Original article published here.