Will COVID-19 kill movie theaters?

Betteridge’s law of headlines says no! But seriously:

Is this the start of the dominos falling? NBC Universal is going to have simultaneous on-demand-release for some (not all) upcoming theatrical releases, and adding a few films currently in theaters to on-demand as soon as Friday.

Will any other studios follow suit? Gotta believe that they’re not going to immediately see revenue from on-demand comparable to pre-COVID-19 theatrical releases, but if these unforeseen circumstances are enough to make them try it anyway, what’s the level where “not as much” money still turns out to be “enough” and theaters never recover as relevant?

Restaurants and retail too.

There’s never been a time when home theatres are closer to average cinema. In fact in the last couple of films i watched at the movies i honestly would have preferred to watch at home; the picture was just barely but (to me) out of focus, the sound balance was wrong, ect.

I know there are still premiere venues and lucky people have them to frequent. But most theatres today are big chain concession things that are often dirty, old and only half pleasant to attend.

The only problem (to me) is the cost of 4K Bluerays. It’s just stupid expensive for a film i probably only want to watch a couple times in my lifetime, like 30$ or more. Streaming will be (imo) unreliable at true 4K for most consumers, and you’ll just get up scaled content instead.

People furloughed from work won’t have any discretionary income to spend on big ticket movie night outings.

People will still want restaurants. COVID-19 might put a lot of them out of business, but the demand will still be there when quarantines and restrictions are lifted and someone will fill that demand.

It’s unclear if the same is true of movie theaters.

Travel and airlines too. Need a new thread to list them all.

I enjoy big opening-night movie events at theaters, but if people started having similar deals at home…I don’t know. I could get on board pretty easily.

That’s also likely, demand will be depressed overall during social restrictions. But again, what I’m wondering is if theaters turn out to be something there’s no sustainable demand for post-restrictions, once the toothpaste is out of the tube and studios give on-demand premieres a try.

And driving to work and in-person meetings. I’m ready for the other side.

Locally, I’d expect a rebound as folks start going back to the movies after this passes, and then another cliff as they’re reminded that the local theaters are physically disgusting, tickets are expensive, and the experience isn’t all that great.

I don’t see myself paying $20 to view a new release when I may see it for free six months from now. Then again I tend to either see the arthouse films or go to $5 night, so I’m not their target audience.

If social isolation only happens in the spring, this shouldn’t be worse for theaters than 2020 would have been anyway. These months are normally weaker.

I think the lack of a strong Marvel release this year is going to be the bigger problem.

If NBC Universal thought early Spring wasn’t going to be much worse than a typical slow Spring, or just the “typical” difference between a year with an Endgame and Star War and one without, they wouldn’t be releasing these on-demand.

$20 for a 48 hour rental does seem awfully steep. It should make the theater chains happy that they’re still cheaper than watching at home.

Here is NorCal it costs nearly $20 to see a movie normally anyway. If this became a standard thing I think I’d stop going to theaters, except for big event films.

We’re half that, but aside from single folks. 19.99 for the entire family to watch and pause a movie, and not pay for concessions is a bargain. It’s also the best we can do while avoiding public gatherings.

I’d pay more than that to see WW 1984 right now.

I would totally cough up $20 to watch Bond at home now (or on its original April release date) instead of waiting for the Fall.

I think this is a pretty big exaggeration, I know QT3 skews older and thus has a demographic that tends to have the space / budget & interest in setting up a nice home theatre. However I really don’t think that your generalization is representative of the viewing public.

There are quite a few factors at play here: from the old chestnut of millennials / Gen Z not being able to afford their own house and are often still stuck in flatshares (& thus not having the space for a nice 7.1 system with a projector / 70inch TV) to perhaps not even WANTING to own a tv and preferring to watch things on their phones/tablets&laptops… Or people just not wanting to install all that tech and “are fine” with just a nice TV (& possibly a soundbar - either of which do not replicate the cinema experience).

And buying Blu Rays? Thats like LPs! Only dinosaurs still have physical media.

And while I personally do have a decent soundsystem & large TV at home, I still prefer a nice cinema experience. (this is all from a European perspective, though I don’t think the situation in the US is that different)

I don’t know that it will kill theaters as a whole, but a couple months of all the big releases being canceled or postponed, social distancing and maybe even full shutdown orders will probably kill some individual theaters.

It turns out to have been a terrible time for my local Alamo to beta test their season pass, for example.

For sure. The studios and the theater’s financials don’t exactly line up though. Some months are break even or worse for theaters since they keep so little ticket revenue, and they may be showing wide releases that don’t do a ton of traffic per screen even though the total revenue for NBC is theoretically high.

So right now, a theater can run limited hours/supplies/staff without looking like a failure, still get A-List et al subscription revenue, and not do too much worse than they would have in the slow period of the year.