Is watching a movie in a theater a “luxury”?

While reading news, articles and blog posts, a daily activity, I came across a thought-provoking comment on a Yahoo piece, which is pictured above as the the third comment by Arrownoir.

The first comment pictured above is also interesting. The fourth comment by Michelle sort of echoes some polling that some (many?) will be afraid of movie theaters when they reopen. This is another reason I’m less concerned about getting sick at the movie theater. The fewer the people who go, the safer they will be. We tried to stay away from crowds at the theater even before there was a pandemic. It’s like eating at a restaurant that just had a food outbreak, trust me that after they reopen they are way safer than they probably ever had been. When movie theaters first reopen, assuming there aren’t a rush of moviegoers going, they will be about as safe as they ever can and will be in the current environment.

But back to the comment in question.

The commenter considers movies to be a “luxury.” While considering that question for a moment, let’s look at the article itself which deals with the almost Russian Roulette nature of movies moving around on the calendar and what will lead to the best box office performance.

Yet even with the understanding that the calendar could be as tentative as plans for leading film festivals and awards shows, there are still a number of oddities that otherwise would make studio CEOs question the sanity of their distribution and marketing teams.

Studios May Try but Certain Release Schedule Rules Can’t Be Broken

All statistics and data need to be thrown out in these current times. There are just too many unknowns to predict what moviegoers will or won’t do when theaters finally do reopen. Even though they are set to open at the end of July, I’d say it’s at best a coin flip if they won’t push back opening even further.

I don’t want them to do that (unless it is unsafe, of course), but the reality is the virus numbers are returning en masse, people are fighting against wearing masks and other social distancing policies and, no surprise, more people are getting sick. This is leading to some local and state governments rolling back their phased reopening plans to March and April rules.

This directly impacts the likelihood of movie theaters reopening. We’re only 19 days away as of this writing, but again, I’m not sure the big three chains will open as planned at the end of the July.

Not even sure if they should.

The National Theater Association (NATO is their acronym) is taking their complaint to court in New Jersey that if churches can open movie theaters — presumably the House of Cinematic Holy — should be able to do so as well.

“By this Complaint, Plaintiffs challenge Defendants’ unconstitutional and unlawful distinctions in allowing certain places of public assembly to reopen, while requiring movie theatres to remain closed,” states a complaint being led by the National Association of Theatre Owners of New Jersey. “COVID-19 represents a serious public health risk, and Plaintiffs support fair and reasonable actions by the government to address that risk. However, the government-mandated total closure of movie theatres is neither fair nor reasonable, and is instead a violation of Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, Equal Protection of the laws, Due Process under the law, and is a Taking of property without just compensation.”

Movie Theater Giants Sue New Jersey Over “Unconstitutional” COVID-19 Closures

Not going to touch comparing assembling for religious purposes vs. attending a movie in a theater for entertainment purposes, lest lightning strikes me during the next thunderstorm.

If the theaters can’t reopen in some areas, or perhaps most areas, it would mean that the big three theater chains would push back reopening yet again. This would follow another round of movie date delays with the two leading titles, Tenet and Mulan being delayed again to, who knows when next. The domino effect.

So, when we consider this with the comment mentioned at the start of this post, watching movies in theaters does appear to be a luxury. The commenter did qualify with “people are preoccupied with important stuff right now.”

That “important stuff” could be working in these trying times, or trying to get back to work, or being sick and/or otherwise unable to work. The unemployment rate a year ago was around 3.5%, the last month’s numbers were at 11%+. Down from a high of almost 14% but still, not good. Not good at all.

Yes, watching movies in theaters is a luxury under these conditions. If we didn’t have these times and people weren’t still getting sick in record numbers, I’d push back against this comment. Now, I’m just wanting to see these numbers go back down again. If opening theaters makes this any worse, then they should remain closed. I’ve been in favor of theaters opening when it is safe to do so since the beginning. It just doesn’t seem “safe” right now.

Will it be any different in 19 days? I don’t know.

Last thought. Readers might recall me saying I’ve been torn on how casinos can be any safer than movie theaters. They can’t and aren’t. If one is open should the other be? No. Nevada just closed bars in casinos, because that will improve the social distancing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of cases increase that they don’t shut that down too.

We might be looking at Fall or Winter 2020 before movie theaters get reopened and back to any sort of sense of normalcy. Maybe even it won’t be until 2021 and beyond. Nevermind movies in theater, life being normal as it was before the pandemic seems like a luxury right now.

Regal Cinemas Announces Classic Movie Screenings Starting July 10 (IF they reopen): Rocky, Jaws, The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight, Jurassic Park and more

Despite the delay of Tenet and Mulan to August (see: Tenet Delayed Again to August 12 – Summer Movie Theater Viewing Slipping Away), Regal Cinemas continues to stay the course of their announcement of reopening July 10.

According to a series of tweets from Regal’s official Twitter account (@RegalMovies), they have announced some of the classic movies that will be screening.

This is a good selection of movies to watch or rewatch on the big screen. Any in particular you’re interested in watching/rewatching in the theater, let us know in the comments. And, you might want to read the tweet replies, as some folks are saying it’s “too soon” and to “wait.”

This, in fact, might be the reality in some (many?) areas.

As of this writing, all our local Regal theaters continue to show no movie showtimes available for presale tickets (see topmost image). Being July 10 is only a couple weeks away from the posting of this article logic would suggest that at any time now the movie times will appear.

Unless they decide not to reopen, which is entirely possible, especially considering phase 4 in our area is being slowed due to spikes in COVID-19.

Credit: The Seattle Times June 27, 2020

We live in a county just south of the highest percentage of COVID-19 cases (King County – Seattle) highlighted in red on the image shown above. The graph to the left shows the increase in COVID-19 cases has risen to levels seen on 4/1 a couple weeks after non-essential businesses were closed. Deaths, if there is any positive in this data, have continued to decline.

I’m not sure if Regal or AMC will open in a couple weeks based on this data. Throughout this pandemic, I’ve maintained that the theaters should reopen as soon as possible when it is safe. I’m no scientist or health care professional, but the data above makes a strong case in our area that it isn’t safe yet.

I’m among the group that strongly wants to see movie theaters reopen, but not at the cost of public safety. If they do reopen on July 10, as planned, I’m going to be there, but this isn’t clear bearing the data shown above.

I’ve been waiting to post movies coming to theaters in July because changes to movie release dates continue to be delayed. This is yet more proof that nothing is predictable in these current times. Will likely do again like June (see: Originally Planned 9 Movies COMING TO THEATERS in June 2020 – Actual: 3 VOD, 0 Wide Theater Releases). I was hoping we might be getting back to normal, but that seems premature.

When Do You Think Movie Theaters Will Reopen?

We’ve covered in a prior post if you’re going to wait or visit right away and if you’re required to wear a mask (see: Will You Watch More or Less Movies in Theaters That Require Wearing a Mask?), a question I haven’t asked is when do you think movie theaters will reopen?

Will movie theaters open in July? Yes/no? In some areas, at least, I think the answer is no, despite theater announcements to the contrary. Government regulations may prevent — and rightly so — this from happening.

Those Polled Say Temp Taken and More Hand Sanitizer Make Them More Likely To Revisit Movie Theater

Man poisoned in an anthology short story season 1 of Bloodride

Polls can say anything they want.

Depending on who’s taking them, how the poll is worded. Remember, the polls overwhelmingly declared Donald Trump had no chance winning against Hillary Clinton.

So, yeah, I’m a little jaded on polls. However, this EDO poll is a little more optimistic about moviegoers returning to theaters if they feel safe.

What’s key to note in the latest survey from EDO is that when respondents were polled initially, they were asked outright if they’d return to cinemas. Those responses drew a near split reaction between likely (40%) and unlikely (36%). However, with the implementation of their desired safety measures, the rate of respondents who said that they were likely to return increased significantly from 40% to 75%. Eighty percent of the EDO sample said the ability to RSVP seats also was a positive factor contributing to their decision to head back to the cinema.

Movie Theaters Reopening Survey: Majority Would Go If Safety Measures In Place – Deadline

Having hand sanitizer stations everywhere and plexiglass guards on the headrests doesn’t prevent someone with COVID-19 from sneezing outside a mask into the air and it being circled around inside the theater.

Not trying to rain on any safety standard parade, but this was covered in a scene in a movie already quite effectively (see: Will Social Distancing by Movie Theaters Truly Provide More Protection Against Viral Infection?)

I’m onboard with checking temps, enforcing masks, putting up plexiglass guards (as long as they don’t obstruct viewing), selling to 50% capacity so every other chair or more enforce distancing — all of this sounds good, but I’m practical understanding that the risk is still there and no matter how much safety is employed some percentage of moviegoers will not return to movie theaters.

Some may never return.

Although not a guarantee, because my work and life schedule might prevent this, but as soon as I know Regal Cinemas are open in our area showing movies, I’ll be there, whatever safety measures they’ve put in place. Wife and I both will be there.

We love and miss the movie theater experience. We love that more than are afraid we’ll contract COVID-19 from another moviegoer. Neither of us want to get sick, but we have been working the entire time this pandemic happened. We’re interacting with people through work, some in close proximity, so we’ve been running the risk of getting sick all along.

My thinking is if I can get sick at work, using precautions, I might as well not change my entertainment lifestyle too much. Movie theaters, restaurants, concerts, casinos, yes, going to visit them all. Can’t just work and stay at home. That’s not living life. I’m getting out there and doing something.

Sure, it puts me at greater risk doing many of these things I enjoy, but living life fearing death is pointless. We’re all going to die sooner or later. Heck, we’re dying right now. There is an internal clock called aging that never loses. Why spend another day confined to your home when you can get outside and breathe in fresh air, head to the mountains or ocean or lake? Watch birds flying, climb a tree, hike a trail. Plenty of activities outside that don’t involve other people, if that’s your thing.

Spokane, WA Hobby Lobby May Not Be Singing In The Rain like Northern Quest Casino

Singing In The Rain slot machine is at Northern Quest Casino in Spokane, WA, one of the first casinos in the United States to reopen

I’ve long argued that it’s unfair that tribal casinos as businesses are allowed to play by different rules.

Just to be clear up front, I harbor no ill will to the tribes and their people and am disgusted by American history in how they were treated, but two wrongs don’t make a right. I also enjoy visiting tribal casinos and giving them my business, so full disclosure is necessary.

That said, I wish non-tribal businesses in our state could legally offer gambling.

Whenever legislation has come up to allow any business to be able to have gambling, I’ve voted for it. Always, however, tribes sponsor anti-gambling opposition ads. Of course they don’t want to allow Joe’s Bar & Grill to be able to add slot machines. Or, frankly, any company to come in that isn’t tribal and open a competing casino.

Competition among businesses is good for us. Alas, that’s not the case in Washington State and many other states, unfortunately, where gambling is allowed only in tribal casinos.

Case in point.

Sure, I get that they don’t technically fall under the same laws, but an arts & crafts store called Hobby Lobby is not being allowed to reopen, one that is following social distancing and safety measures vs. a gigantic tribal casino and it defies logic.

“They are not allowed to open under this phase,” said Mike Faulk, press secretary for Inslee. “It’s a state prohibition, so I’m not sure why they would ask local officials to give them clearance.”

Inslee’s office: Hobby Lobby openings in Spokane area violate virus restrictions | The Spokesman-Review

The article details that Hobby Lobby can be open, but only for curbside pick-up, not for customers to come inside the store because their business is non-essential and prohibited from opening at this phase in the Washington State rollout plan.

Aye, the rub. Meanwhile, casinos are reopening which have dramatically more foot traffic than an arts & crafts store.

Movie theaters can’t open in Washington State because we’re not at that same phase. Maybe I should be wishing that tribes buy theaters so they could do so.

Don’t get me started on how a casino could be any less high risk than a movie theater.

COVID-19 Parties? Proof That Not All Human Life Is Intelligent

Outbreak ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Whenever you doubt the stupidity of some human beings, look no further than those organizing and attending these so-called COVID-19 parties.

Yes, parties designed for attendees to intentionally contract the virus from infected.

Health officials in Walla Walla, Washington, are admonishing the sudden rise in so-called “Covid-19 parties” where non-infected guests mingle with those who have tested positive for the virus, ostensibly in hopes of speeding up the process of catching, and overcoming, the virus.

‘It’s irresponsible’: Washington state sees sudden rise in Covid parties | World news | The Guardian

(Why does this have to come out of the state where we live, anyway? Sigh)

These parties aren’t unprecedented in history, as the linked article indicates. There were ‘Pox’ parties too, once upon a time.

The Simpsons have always had forward thinking humor. Proof that this show has had some of the best writers in entertainment.

Seriously, people, please don’t attend COVID-19 parties. Doubtful that anybody reading this would consider attending one, but if you are stopping by to say you’re all about it. Please use the comments to explain why. Won’t hold my breath, but hey, the internet is a big place.

I don’t mind making a PSA for this. If someone wants to be part of a scientific experiment, then contact those who are developing vaccines and offer to be a COVID-19 human guinea pig. God bless anybody wanting to help in the process of developing a vaccine. That is intelligent and helpful.

After The Coronavirus Ends, 49% Poll Respondents Say They Won’t Immediately Return to Movie Theaters, “possibly never”

We can’t wait to fill these comfy recliners at the movie theater again … but some others disagree

Never say never.

Once the pandemic ends better than half polled said their attendance to movie theaters won’t change, but that’s not the troubling data in this poll.

The news for movie theaters was particularly grim, with 49% of respondents saying it would take “a few months” to “possibly never” for them to return, and 28% saying they will attend movie theaters less often once they’re safe. While 15% of respondents said they plan on going to the movies more often post-pandemic (and 58% said their attendance won’t change),

Coronavirus Pandemic Could Erode Movie Theater, Concert Turnout – Variety

Hey, it could be worse. 72% of sports fans polled say they aren’t coming back to stadiums until there is a coronavirus vaccine.

Back to the moviegoer poll. They’re saying the margin of error is ~3%, but I don’t buy how 1,000 people polled can be that accurate of the larger population.

Our behavior almost certainly will not. We’ll (hopefully, if still available) have our unlimited monthly movie passes reinstated (come to think of it, what if those are no longer available when the theaters reopen???) and return to watching all wide releases in the movie theater, as we were before this craziness began.

The S&P recently downgraded AMC’s rating and there is speculation they may never open again (I think that’s unlikely — somebody probably buys out the theaters at least — but the longer this drags on, the more leases won’t get renewed and theaters will continue to close).

If AMC is success in gaining financing through the CARES act, they may be able to keep their doors open. However, that will all depend on when everything is able to get back to some form of normalcy. For now, it doesn’t look good, which means everybody may have to stay indoors for a lot longer than expected.

AMC Theatres May Never Recover and Shut Down for Good – MOVIEWEB

How, if at all, will your behavior change once the movie theaters reopen?

What will you do when the movie theaters reopen? Will you attend more movies, less, or about the same amount? Will you go at different (perhaps less busier) times?

Rose from Titanic, Kate Winslet, Teaches How To Wash Our Hands

Titanic ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

How often do we get a chance to learn how to wash our hands from someone who was aboard the Titanic? Ok, well, she was an actress that played someone aboard that fateful ship, but it’s about as close as we’re going to get in 2020, because anybody and everybody that was on that boat has passed on.

Seriously, this how to is good stuff. Watch it, live it, do it. Recommended.

Thank you, Rose, er, Kate. Much appreciated. Seriously, no snark whatsoever. This is a very useful video.

Lionsgate, Fandango, YouTube, NATO Streaming Free Movie Fridays To Help Furloughed Cinema Employees

Lionsgate Live at YouTube the next four Fridays will be offering live watch-along movies

Lionsgate Live! at YouTube (subscribed!) starts this Friday. A free movie event sponsored by Lionsgate, Fandango, YouTube & NATO (National Association of Theater Owners):

The schedule of Lionsgate Live movies, which will stream on Fridays at 6:00pm PT (GMT-8)/9:00pm ET are:

April 17 – The Hunger Games
April 24 – Dirty Dancing
May 1 – La La Land
May 8 – John Wick (age registration required)

Lionsgate Teams With Fandango, YouTube & NATO To Help Furloughed Cinema Employees With ‘Lionsgate Live!’ – Deadline

Jamie Lee Curtis is hosting these watch-along events which includes live chat, the goal to virtually create the theater social experience. Can you smell the popcorn?

The article provides even more details of fan-interactive activities during the movies:

Each week’s night at the movies will feature special programming and interactive opportunities for fans, like real-time fan chats via YouTube Live, live tweeting @Lionsgate and partners, and shared fan engagement opportunities in-show, including movie trivia, movie-themed challenges, and more.

As reported in the past, I’m a huge fan of watch-alongs and viewing parties, long before the pandemic (see: 2nd Annual Halloween Mystery Movie Event Features 4 Shudder Movies).

SnackNation is selling a Snack Box for $9.99 for delivery — too late for this Friday’s show, but future Fridays

Apparently there is a site online called Popcornopolis in addition to SnackNation (never used either service, so not a recommendation, just sharing the links for your own review) partnering up with Lionsgate for this event. These are not affiliate links — we don’t do that here as of this writing — BTW. Just linking to them as part of the event promotion because it bugs me when news articles mention things but don’t link to them or tell us the details.

I haven’t seen Dirty Dancing in years. La La Land? Only one in list I haven’t seen yet. None of these movies have had reviews yet and I’m usually off work by 6pm PST on Fridays, so this could line up well. Anybody else going?

Any other viewing parties/watch-along events to share? Use the comments below to tell us about it. If you’re going to any of the viewing party events above, please let us know.

Corona – The Already Finished Coronavirus Movie with No Distributor or Release Date

The cliche ‘the early bird gets the worm’ seems very applicable here.

This movie should probably be under a FIRST LOOK, only we haven’t done them for movies that don’t have a distributor and release date. This is more of a finished film, complete with an IMDB page, looking for a home.

The second, and possibly most important, factor that could make Corona stand out in the market is that it truly is the first film covering the hysteria behind COVID-19. That novelty alone will draw people into watching what Mostafa Keshvari’s film has to offer to the world.

There’s Somehow Already A Finished Coronavirus Movie – CINEMABLEND

The movie even has a trailer already:

Corona official trailer

Trailer thoughts:

  • That guy with the swastika tattoo on his head looks like he’s about to snap before he snaps
  • Nobody is practicing safe distancing, they must be forced to be in close quarters — which will only add to the fear and tension
  • “China. That’s where the virus is from …”
  • The acting seems a bit amateurish in the trailer, but maybe it gets better in the actual movie(?)

Corona does not have a distributor or official release date. Maybe one of the many streaming channels will pick this up.

The “Popup” Phenomenon – COVID-19 Stats in Washington State still trending upward with 2,000+ deaths nationwide, 30,000+ globally

The graphics via The Seattle Times shows the primary danger of fatality is age 70+

On the east coast, in the interest of social distancing, there is/has been popup drive-thru coronavirus testing:

At the recommendation of a doctor, those with an appointment can drive up, get swabbed by medical professionals and be on their way back home without the risk of exposing many more health care professionals and the general public than if they were at a hospital. Results are said to take about a day or so to come back.

1st drive-thru coronavirus pop-up testing site continues at Glen Island Park

Haven’t heard about anything like this in Washington State, but it’s a good idea. Our state, unfortunately known as the first state where this appeared in the United Stated, we’re in the midst of a two-week “stay at home” order. My wife and I both work in “essential/critical” jobs, so we are still going to work somewhat normally. I’m taking two days off, which is a little abnormal, considering I usually work six days. That extra day is my extra way of providing additional social distancing.

There is one question on our minds, probably on everybody’s minds that lives in this state (and elsewhere around the world, too):

Is the pandemic near its peak?

With 2,000 nationwide now dead from the disease, 189 in Washington state, we don’t appear to have reached the peak in America, but if we use China that is about 45 days ahead of us in their results, we could be nearing that point.

As the article linked above indicates, about 2/3 of America are in shelter in place or stay at home orders, some 215 million Americans and counting. My wife and I are carrying around copies of emails on our phones which authorize our status as allowed to work, just in case we’re stopped. One of my wife’s co-workers has been stopped and questioned.

The Seattle Times maintains a live updated page containing the COVID-19 statistics for Washington State residents. The top of this blog post shares Friday 3/27 statistics and here are Saturday 3/28:

A 587 jump between 3/27 and 3/28 for confirmed cases and 14 deaths

I’ve been clicking over there once a day to see the changes from day to day and trying to use this as a gauge for when the virus shows signs of receding and more businesses might be able to reopen again.

The [Washington] state Department of Health announced 516 newly confirmed cases Friday, bringing the state total to 3,723 cases, including 175 deaths. The bulk of Washington’s cases remain in King County, which haas seen 1,828 people fall ill and 125 die.

Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, March 28: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the nation | The Seattle Times

It would seem the jump in people newly tested and affected is rising, not falling or leveling off yet, but remaining hopeful that these times are the worst right now and it will level off and began to recede soon.

While you might not expect this kind of coverage here, this pandemic is affecting nearly everything we regularly do.

It might seem inconsequential or unimportant to mention movies as recreation and entertainment during these times, but this sort of escapism is part of the cure mentally. We need to focus on something other than only the unseen enemy in our midst. Books, movies, TV, the internet, thank goodness we have you!

So, movies, let’s talk.

Movie theaters are shuttered, too, of course, but some pop-up drive-ins are starting to appear.

What are pop-up drive-ins?

Previously, we discussed a resurgence of some drive-in theaters. Unfortunately, in our area the drive-in theaters have delayed opening, due to the shelter in place order in our state.

I wasn’t familiar with what a “pop-up drive-in” experience was, until I started seeing articles like this one: Hundreds Show Up to Pop Up Drive Up Movie Night in Gering

A business at pop-upcinema.com around setting up portable drive-in movie theaters

Googling, I learned that there is a business operating in South Africa which specializes in the popup drive-in experience (pictured above). Instead of a bouncy house, it’s a gigantic screen filled with air. Cars roll into parking lots or other big areas and the screen is displayed for all to watch. The sound is transmitted using Bluetooth, it seems.

Openair.us operates in the United States, selling an 18 foot inflatable screen that weighs 17 pounds!

Some of these pictures do not depict the proper 6′ social distancing, but hey, the screens look cool!

There are various companies who sell popup movie screens if you already have a projector and a huge open space on your property so you could make your own outdoor popup drive-in theater.

Years ago, we had a really bad storm in our area that took out all power for several days. I remember reading by candlelight and cuddling up in heavy blankets to stave off the cold. That reminded me how much we take for granted lights and power. Luckily, we don’t have weather issues piling on, too.

Hopefully, soon we can begin to post signs that the other stuff going on is receding, more people can return to work, businesses can reopen and the economy can begin rebuilding and healing.

I’m going to keep on writing about movies, TV and other entertainment and recreation. Pull up a chair, light a good fire if you have a woodstove or a virtual one and let’s get lost in the wonderful world of imagination.