It has been too long. Too long since I have actually been to the movies. Too long since I wrote a review of a movie.
I have written reviews for EthicsDaily.com since 2001. EthicsDaily.com and Nurturing Faith combined to become Good Faith Media in July, but I have yet to write a review for the new venture.
It looks like it is going to be longer.
The news says the Regal Cinemas theater chain shut down all 536 locations on Oct. 9. That is more than 7,000 movie screens that will go dark.
The stated reason is “an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape” due to the coronavirus. The CEO of Cineworld, the parent company, says this closure is temporary. But it does not look good for the future.
The inability to operate in New York is part of the problem. The larger issue is the lack of new movies coming out to fill the screens of theaters that are trying to open.
Currently, some theaters open here in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I live, but most of their screens have movies that first ran years ago. Last week, the number-one movie in the U.S. was “Hocus Pocus.” That movie debuted in 1993.
With big movies like “Die Another Day,” “Dune,” “Black Widow” and “Wonder Woman 1984” all getting pushed further and further back into next year, exhibitors are finding nothing new to show, which is the life blood of the theater business.
Netflix and other streaming outlets are the only place to find first-run movies. For me, the problem with that is they have to be watched at home. I miss going to the theater.
There is nothing like sitting in a large, darkened room with many other people experiencing the joy of a movie. Popcorn and Diet Coke by my side, watching the story unfold before my eyes.
Laughing with others at what is funny, and crying as a group at what is sad. There is no other experience of watching the movies like that.
I have watched movies all my life on television. The first time I saw “To Kill a Mockingbird,” it was on the NBC Saturday Night Movie. It was powerful, but not as powerful as it would have been seeing it down at the Carolina or Riverside theaters in my hometown.
Has COVID killed the movie industry? Probably not. But I think it has dealt a mortal wound to the theater business.
Even me, a person who went to movies with my gall bladder giving me fits and being so sick that the next week I would be in the ICU, I would think twice about going to a theater now.
Sitting in a chair with others, who probably would take off their masks once no one was watching, is not my idea of a safe environment.
What I see in this season of pandemic is there will be many things we had before that will not come back.
More than 1 million people have died from COVID-19, including more than 200,000 in the U.S. alone.
In addition, the livelihoods of many have been threatened, with many restaurants, small businesses and even huge theater chains unlikely to weather the storm of the virus well.
This leaves me in a place of sadness for the lost lives, as well as the current and future impacts on businesses and employment.
I’m also saddened by the loss of many activities I enjoyed prior to the pandemic, with moviegoing at the top of the list.
The last time I went to a movie was when “Onward” debuted over six months ago. If you told me I would go six months without going to see a movie in a theater, I would have said you are crazy.
But it is not you or me that is crazy. It is the times we find ourselves living in.
And so, we sit in the holding pattern of today. We do not know when we will land and get off this pandemic plane, but we all hope it will be sooner rather than later.
While I wait, I wonder. Where will we be when all the movies that were to come out this year come out next year? Will there even be movie theaters to go see them in? If there are, will there be so few screens that it will be impossible to get a ticket to get into one?
My church knows how much I love movies. They purchased a $250 gift card for Regal Cinemas for me to go to the movies. That was very nice of them to do.
Now I wonder if I will ever get to redeem that card or will it just stay in my drawer at home?
Pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.