Crowds Return to Cinemas Marking A Start to A ‘New Normal’

Ruben Banuelos, Staff Writer

With 2020 in our rearview mirror, many public spaces deemed non-essential in March 2020 are open again after over a year of closure. Watching a new movie at your local movie theater is becoming a reality again.
In regards to Californians getting vaccinated, 43.3 million doses have been given throughout the state, and 20 million or 50.7% of California residents are fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.
As each day passes, more people begin to participate in activities they haven’t been involved in for over a year. “Life last year was definitely different. We as a community were very limited as far as activities go, and we weren’t able to live our normal lives due to Covid-19. We weren’t able to do simple things like go to the movies,” Chabot College student Juan Valdovinos stated.
Like the rest of the world, Americans were at home for most of 2020. With restrictions being lifted at various times throughout the country, many were eager to leave their homes.
The need for out-of-home activities has become a necessity for many who thrive on person-to-person physical interaction.
The transition back to in-person movie watching is beneficial for both moviegoers and movie theater owners. Moviegoers can leave their homes and enjoy an afternoon at the theaters and with more people visiting the movies, revenue increases, helping the industry after a troubling year trying to stay in business.
It was reported that AMC lost 561 million dollars in one-quarter in August 2020, with revenue being down.
Fast and Furious’s latest installment of the series, “F9,” was released at a perfect time on June 25, shortly after California’s announcement of lifted restrictions on June 15.
Theaters saw an increase in ticket sales following the eased restrictions. “F9” accumulated 70 million dollars in its opening weekend, making it the biggest opening since the pandemic.
Though, in contrast to pre-Covid, the numbers aren’t all that impressive. Going back to pre-pandemic reports, the movie wasn’t nearly as impressive as some of the franchise’s previous films.
Cinemas are adapting to the new normal, requiring reserved seating. “It’s cool; they have reserve seating now though online, giving you the option to choose seats that are more spaced out [to social distance],” Bay Area resident Romaria Pena said.
When asked if he feels comfortable coming back to the theaters, “If someone is vaccinated, why keep living in fear.”
Now that cinemas’ path to normality starts to clear up, the challenge theaters face is streaming platforms; many production companies have chosen to air their new films via streaming platforms like Apple TV, HBO Max, Netflix, and Hulu rather than on the big screen in theaters. “It’s nice; for me, I’m a stay-at-home guy; if I can watch movies at home, then I can pause it whenever I want, and I don’t miss anything if I need to go to the bathroom,” Pena discussed.
At-home streaming has become very popular since the stay-at-home orders were set into motion, but nothing beats the experience of visiting your local movie theater picking up some freshly popped popcorn and an oversized soda that you may or may not finish.