Pandemic causes uncertainty for film industry

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Star Wars fans congregate outside a cinema for the premiere of Return of the Jedi. A sight like this has gone unseen for the past few months due to the pandemic.

The film industry is changing, and fast. Now, theaters are shutting down, streaming services are piling up, and the film community is beginning to fear a future where going to the movies is something of the past.

With coronavirus cases rising in the United States, theaters have closed down and production companies such as HBO Max have compensated by releasing films online and in whichever cinemas still have open doors. As soon as Nick Schueller, Milwaukee Film Club member and social studies teacher at Homestead, heard about the HBO deal, he began to worry.
“I texted my brother and cousin, and I said movie theaters are dead.”
He went on to express his worry for the future of movie theaters such as the small cinema in Hartford owned by Eric Bauer, Film as Literature teacher at Homestead, who is intrigued by the new deals.

“It’ll be interesting,” Bauer said. “This might be a good test to see if theaters are going to have to find a new way to adapt in order to regain audiences.”
He then continued to recall that decades ago, with the release of television, people thought cinema was dead, too.

With over 300 streaming services at our fingertips, some can say the film watching experience has become more enhanced than ever before. Schueller is accepting the rise in streaming, as it allows him to explore a more diverse group of films.
He went on to say, “especially like foreign films….I would never see that down at the Marcus.”

Annie Brown, junior and author of Homestead’s blog Movies Everyone Should Watch in Their Lifetime, errs on the side of convenience; she finds herself and others her age “watch[ing] movies the way they watch TV shows:” gradually and with plenty of surrounding distractions. The movie theater experience is quite the opposite, as phones are supposed to be silenced and the room is dark.
An ideal setting for a filmmaker to premier their piece.

Mariana Gomez Ruiz, film student at Savannah College of Art and Design, dreams of seeing her own work premier on the big screen, but like many other present filmmakers understands that the chances are slim. She empathized with directors whose films will premier on streaming as a result of the HBO Max deal, saying that she would feel “devastated” if she was forced to premiere something online, just as directors at Disney and HBO Max were.
“It’s definitely not the same feeling as a director or as a filmmaker to know that your movie is not gonna be in a movie theater,” Gomez Ruiz said.

Quinten McLaughlin, sophomore and aspiring filmmaker, thought a compromise may do some good. He sees the issue plainly.

“It’s better if they have a choice. [Sometimes] the director wouldn’t want it on streaming,” McLaughlin said.

Whether you go to the movies for the feeling of community like Schueller does, or just for some delicious snacks like Brown and McLauglin do, there is no doubt that films hold a special place in many people’s hearts. As for what film enthusiasts are most excited to see, Schueller, Annie Brown, and Quinten McLaughlin cannot wait for Dune to premiere, Bauer is anticipating the release of Black Widow, and Mariana Gomez Ruiz is excited for more news on another addition to The Godfather franchise.

Movie fans consider going to the movies is a nostalgic, therapeutic, and overall sacred experience, and they are beyond eager to keep the cinema experience alive when it is safe to do so. Brown takes a moment to imagine the smell of the popcorn, an anticipatory feeling in her stomach, and a ticket stub in her hand. She sighs, and says quietly, “Oh my god, I can’t wait.”

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