To be clear I am not arguing for people to risk their lives to watch movies during a pandemic. Not a single person or filmmaker is calling for that to happen.
I love the theater. It’s a place where I can escape. Escape the heat of the summer, or the stress of the world. It’s a place I can block everything out for 2 hours and have an experience, and once that is over I feel refreshed. I love going to the movies when it’s just me, or even with a group of 30 to see the latest Marvel or Star Wars film. It’s a place that I’ve formed good memories with friends and family. I can’t say the same for the couch.
Since the start of the pandemic many have been worried that this will be the end of movie theaters, but I’ve remained optimistic that they will survive. Parts of the world where the virus has been contained have seen audiences return to big screen. There has been no reason to believe that audiences across the world would refuse to return to theaters once it’s safe to do so. Up til now theaters just needed to survive til everyone gets the vaccine, like many other businesses. Warner Brothers announcing their 2021 film slate moving to HBO Max might have been the nail in the coffin for theaters though.
People across social media have celebrated the move. Thanking Warner for taking their safety seriously, while dunking on Christopher Nolan for wanting to kill them (not true). Let’s be clear: This move was not altruistic. HBO Max was a botched launch and WB needs to prove itself to AT&T and their shareholders. Instead of creating new content for HBO Max they took the work and money from their partners to boost their streaming platform. Regardless of your position on a streaming-only world, it should not be controversial to say that the way Warner Bros handled this was messed up.
I’m not worried that audiences will refuse to return to theaters once it’s safe to do so. We already have proof that people will where it’s safe. I’m worried that a major studio removing their product, instead of making more of it, will hurt the theaters just enough that they are no longer profitable and can’t stay open, then we all lose.