Going to the Movies Without Going to the Movies

By Kenny Lo

Student Lifestyle Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we “go to the movies,” especially for Fairleigh Dickinson University Metropolitan students. Long gone are the days of packed movie theaters during summer blockbusters, at least for now. 

There are more than five movie theaters within a five-mile radius of the FDU Metropolitan Campus, three of which are AMC Theaters.

When the pandemic started, a long pause was cast over the industry. Production immediately shut down and filming has been halted for many films and television programming. As movie theaters around the country closed, studios were forced to delay release of films, pushing them back numerous times.

Metro students are affected by this change, especially those who are either dorming or living in the area. 

“It’s affected me by forcing me to order more things online, since I’m unable to go to the movie theaters, concerts, etc.” said Elijah J. Woodard, a junior and a communications major, via text. “Like on-demand, there are more options to pay to see the latest films. Since a lot of theaters are still not open and this will be the new normal for a while.”

Leichtman Research Group, Inc. conducted a consumer research back in 2018 that saw a surge in Subscription Video On-Demand (SVOD) like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. Some 70% of U.S. households have SVOD, up from 52% in 2015. Fast forward to now, during the months of COVID-19, SVOD has seen a dramatic increase in 2020 with 78% of all U.S. households having the service. These are the months when people are mostly home and have more time on their hands to watch movies, shows, listen to music or play video games.

People are willing to pay for more than one streaming platform in order to get content delivered quickly. And judging by how well it’s currently doing, they are also willing to pay for Premium Video On-Demand (PVOD), even if it’s a rental.

This model loomed around the entertainment industry for a couple of years before the pandemic started. People have already started to “cut the cord” and get rid of their cable subscriptions to switch to a more digital source of entertainment. According to eMarketer, 31.2 million of US households will cut their cable subscription by the end of the year, and more than one-third of U.S. households will no longer have a Pay TV subscription by 2024.

To add some social aspect to this model, some of these streaming platforms let you connect with friends, so you can watch a movie or a show together and chat with them. So far, we have Netflix with “Teleparty” (formerly “Netflix Party”) as a browser extension for your Google Chrome Browser, and Disney+ with its “GroupWatch” feature.

Even with the theaters reopening, people are still not ready to go back

Studios are afraid of the disappointing box office results of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” film that they continue to push the release dates back, with some going as far as rescheduling them to next year. 

Big budget films like Wonder Woman and Black Widow have been through multiple rescheduling. Meanwhile, straight-to-digital films like “Trolls World Tour” and “Mulan” are doing well stateside after being released as premium content for their respective streaming services.

But there are still those who are looking forward to going back to the movie theaters.

“I used to go to the movies at least once a week with my boyfriend and now we can’t do that because not until recently the theaters were closed,” said Elianny Rodriguez, a sophomore English major, via text.

“So many movies were supposed to come out and they all got delayed. I know the movie theaters are greatly affected because of Netflix, so we tried to keep the tradition of going to the movie theater.” 

Whether or not this tradition of going to the movies as a form of entertainment and socializing will flourish once again, the new streaming model is probably here to stay and establish its very own tradition.
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The movies are on the small screen now. Art by Kenny Lo.