An extremely scary thought has entered my mind during corona madness: Maybe I’ll never see another movie in a theater again.
I don’t mean to fear monger. In fact, I would say things are getting a little bit better, which means we’ll be back out in the world sooner than the pessimist breed would have you believe. But what if the curve’s trajectory is off? Will institutions like movie theaters make it out of, say, a year-long closure? I can’t say they would.
Don’t think movie theaters are invincible. They may not outlive me anyway, seeing as the streaming boom has yet to even hit its prime. Inevitable things in our culture have faded due to the coronavirus already. Some will return, like sports, but others may not. Another Great Depression would be far from great for institutions that were already seen as dated.
The last movie I saw in a movie theater was “Ford v Ferrari,” which wouldn’t be my first choice for the distinction. It was fine, but hardly the kind of material that moves me. I would want my final theater experience to be for some grand spectacle of a film. Maybe a musical or an epic, or anything that requires a big screen. I would want it to be a movie that only works in a theater.
I would want my last time in a theater to stick with me. I want the last film to be a thinker; something that stays on my mind and makes me recognize what the theater smelled like and what row I sat in. I would want to hold onto that experience and be immersed in the film and the environment that I watched it in.
I would want a packed theater. Give me a crowd that will audibly gasp when the forces of the narrative turn. No one would be on their phone or whispering to their friend. We’d all be locked into the film in front of us for two hours and we wouldn’t look away. Take your bathroom break before you come in.
I wish every trip to the theater played out this way. I think if the coronavirus teaches us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t take for granted the opportunity to gather in service of being there for an event. We shouldn’t let theaters die just because there’s a more convenient and more directly affordable option. Oh, woe is the person who can’t fathom leaving their home for a night of entertainment.
When the coronavirus allows for us to return to gathering in some capacity, take the time to actually do it. Waxing nostalgic about going places is all fine, but it actually does nothing in practice. Actually being out there in the world and experiencing things that can’t be found within the home is unmatched. This isn’t a debate about introverts and extroverts. This is my take on being a visible member of society. And frankly, we can’t afford to stay at home when the world opens back up.
Sam Zavada is a copy editor with The Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. He previously served as the news clerk at The Standard-Speaker, working with the obituaries and the community and lifestyle pages. Sam’s work in print dates back to his time at King’s College, where he spent two years as the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper, The Crown. Earlier in his time with The Crown, he worked as a staff writer and the entertainment manager. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.