The Cinema Strikes Back!
This time last year film fans never expected to be waiting an entire year before we would be going to the cinema the same way as before the pandemic. While theatres might be operating at reduced capacity the fact audiences are now getting consistent new releases, a variety of films on offer, and more people to view them with means fans and studios have more confidence in the industry than ever.
In the Heights, A Quiet Place Part II, and F9 are all films that showcase the importance of seeing these flicks on the big screen, with the latter two already breaking post-pandemic records.
A Quiet Place Part II demonstrates how a communal and more isolated experience can add a whole other level to what you see on the big screen. Jump scares, laughs, and cheers all add to the thrill of seeing a new release with an audience, an experience which you’d never get at home, which is something everyone now knows more than ever.
As the vaccine programme accelerates, and the public feels more and more comfortable out and about, what was a safe haven for cinephiles last summer has now become a beacon of hope to those who have had to stay at home for so long. Film fans last year were eager to return after just three to four months of lockdown, whereas general audiences were still so so about sitting indoors without a visible way out of the pandemic.
Now with almost 16 months without cinemas in full working order, the public is reminding themselves of the different ways they can go out for entertainment. The cinema has become a treat that many haven't indulged in for a very long time, with films like Cruella, Mortal Kombat, and Fast and the Furious 9 being perfect guilty pleasures.
Though families, couples, and single households alike may have all had their own form of movie night in the past year, going to the cinema is going out, spending time with others, and most importantly creating memories.
In a video last December YouTuber Chris Stuckmann talked about the changes we’ve been seeing over the past year in regards to streaming, PVOD, and theatres. Stuckmann talks about films becoming like news or TV shows dropped in an instant and forgotten about a week later due to the lack of memories we attribute to them.
Stuckmann is of course right, using examples such as Slenderman (2018) or Robin Hood (2018) as terrible films that stand out because of the fun experience he had watching them in the theatre.
We all have those movies we think back on because of how we saw them; who did we go with? Where were you sat? Did someone sit way too close despite the cinema being completely empty?
The fun of the cinema is a conversation we have had here before, just check out Niall’s unique experience watching the 2019 horror show that was Cats. But now cinematic releases are finally rolling out, it seems there’s little way of going back. The film industry now needs to take its small victories and build itself up again to get the public interested in the cinematic experience again. They need to make the latest releases experiences that will not be forgotten, which doesn't just mean flashy stunts or tech.
It means rewarding animators for their hard work by putting films like Luca on the big screen. It means studios putting value in their products, and not just chucking them on the nearest streaming service. It means making captivating dramas that absorb you with their script and cinematography rather than causing you to become distracted.
Hollywood has learned a lot from the past 12 months, and the next 12 will certainly give us an idea of how they will operate in the future.
Will films continue to be released at home and in cinemas? Can they ever make the sort of money they did before? (China seems to think so, but that’s sketchy, to say the least) And will No Time to Die ever make it to the big screen?
We can only hope. The industry has clearly changed. There have always been movies that felt they could have gone "straight to DVD" or in this case; streaming. There will always be winners and losers at the box office. But when it comes to independent cinema, awards contenders, or franchise fair, every film deserves its chance to have its moment on the big screen and not just be another story in an overcrowded space.
We won’t know the answers to all that comes ahead in the next two years, but ultimately we can still be whisked away by the magic of the movies. The smell of the popcorn, the neon lights guiding you up the steps, and the automatic curtains opening up the screen and your eyes to the next big story.
When will be your next visit?
Check out Chris Stuckmann's video on the changes in the way we experience movies here:
And don't forget to check out Niall's article on the joy of seeing Cats on the big screen:
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