Movie theaters make a comeback with summer blockbusters on the way
VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia – Movie theaters are coming back to life with some box office hits, and people are ready to take the seats.
“It’s a good experience because you can enjoy it with other people in a big setting on the big screen,” said film enthusiast Adrianna Milford.
After the COVID-19 crisis and a Hollywood hiatus on new releases forced all U.S. Regal theaters to close in October, the Regal Columbus Theater in Virginia Beach reopened two weeks ago on May 21.
The reopening has brought moviegoers like Kate McCloskey, 12, back to the big screen after more than a year.
“I’m surprised and happy,” said McCloskey. “We did Hulu and Netflix and all the streaming apps.”
Major releases, such as “A Quiet Place Part II” would have brought one of the highest weekend debuts during the Memorial Day holiday with $ 47,547,231.
“It was pretty good, actually,” Milford said. “The end was pretty quick, though. It’s the only thing, but overall it was a really good movie.
The pandemic has ravaged the film industry, but economist Paul Ewell has said that doesn’t mean it will be the end of the summer tradition.
“I don’t think cinema is going to go away,” said Ewell, who is an associate associate professor at ODU. “Some people have said or suggested that the days of going to the theater are over. I do not see it. I think people have been so locked in due to COVID for over a year now, they want to get out. They want to go back to the theater, so I think they’re going to get over it. If they will recover to where they were before COVID, I don’t know. “
As vaccination rates increase, more and more people are expected to venture out to the movies.
“For theaters, the recovery outlook continues to improve as vaccinations increase in Hampton Roads and the Commonwealth,” ODU economics professor Bob McNab said. “Consumers are increasingly confident, which translates into increased spending on leisure and entertainment. “
An immediate struggle, experts say, is finding enough workers.
“Certainly, the state of Virginia has been very generous during the COVID crisis, as has the federal government, so there is a significant amount of money, unemployment benefits that are paid out to people,” Ewell said. “What I see – especially in retail – is if you don’t pay $ 15 an hour you won’t find people, and I know retailers in particular have a hard time hiring. people at $ 15 an hour. “
“The immediate challenge right now is not to convince consumers that theaters are safe, but to find enough workers,” he said. “While the demand for workers grew rapidly over the past month, the workforce has not increased. The latest data shows average wages have started to rise in response, meaning theaters may have to raise prices to attract labor. It should also come as no surprise that adolescent labor market participation has grown rapidly as employers seek to attract new workers. “
As Hollywood releases more and more blockbusters, experts say the challenge will be in competition with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and HBO Max.
“I think it's going to be a struggle between movie makers and the movie theaters and the streaming companies; that's where the big battle is going to take place,” Ewell said.
Milford, 20, said she could stick with streaming.
“I’m more of a streaming person,” she laughs. “I’m only doing this because it’s been closed for a while and I want to get out of the house, but I’m more of a streamer.”
Most would agree, but it’s hard to replace the theatrical experience with your phone.
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