Covid-19 moving movies from theaters to streaming services


Photo by Erin Fagan

The Cinemark at the Louis Joliet Mall

Erin Fagan, Staff Writer

  You purchase your ticket and slip it into your pocket. You wait in line to get your popcorn, favorite candy, and soda. With goodies in hand, you walk to the theater. Once you get to your seat, you sink into it with anxious anticipation. After the trailers play for what seems like forever, the lights dim and the screen lights up, engrossing you in a new world for the next few hours.  

  Everyone knows what it is like to go to the movie theater, but with the global pandemic, this experience is no longer available, and companies have had to turn to streaming services instead.  

   According to, after more than two months spent sheltering in place during the pandemic, many Americans have grown more comfortable entertaining themselves at home. In fact, if new movies were available in both theaters and on streaming services for the same price right now, 70% of people said they would still choose to stream the feature at home over going to a movie theater, according to a new survey published in Variety. 13% said they would prefer to watch the new release at the cinema, and 17% said they were not sure. 

  This transition from theaters to streaming services all started when Covid-19 began to close places down in March. Senior Ana Labriola who was an employee of Cinemark at the Louis Joliet Mall at the time noticed the change in the mall.  

  “I heard of the Coronavirus, but I didn’t think it would spark up,” Labriola said. “Then a couple of weeks later everything in the mall started closing down and the mall started to look really dismal.”  

  Many people have opted to use the streaming services they have at home during this pandemic. Junior Tori Kubiak has many streaming services she utilizes including Disney Plus, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.  

  “I like all the variety of things I can watch,” Kubiak said.  

  Senior Allison Czekala has many streaming services as well and enjoys them for the same reason Kubiak does.  

  “There are tons of options,” Czekala said.  

  Both Kubiak and Czekala have taken advantage of the movies that have been moved from theaters, but they both had the same complaint about this move.  

  “I personally wanted to see the new movie “Invisible Man” in theaters, but I had to purchase it on my tv for a price that was about three times what I would have paid at the theater,” Czekala said.  

  Kubiak mentioned a comparable situation with a movie she wanted to view.  

  “Mulan was supposed to be put out in theaters when it was released,” Kubiak said. “I had Disney Plus, but when it was put on there you had to pay an extra 30 dollars to watch it. My dad didn’t want to do that, so we waited till it was free on December 4th.” 

  Czekala also mentioned the price of streaming services compared to movies.  

  “They are expensive over time,” Czekala said.  

  Kubiak also sees issues with using streaming services.  

  “You can only have so many people on one of the apps or streaming services or it lags,” Kubiak said.  

  Before the theater closed, they put in efforts to keep it clean, safe, and open, but then the governor issued a Stay-at-Home order for Illinois on March 21. 

  “At first we tried to replace trash bags and do spacing, but then in the end they just decided to close it [the theater],” Labriola said. “It was a good thing it closed down because working at the theater, people are sitting next to each other and everyone in line is really close and it’s kind of just jam packed with people all the time.” 

  The Cinemark took other precautions as well to keep the theater germ free.  

  “I think they had everyone wear gloves,” Labriola said. “I’m sure when they were open for a short time everyone was wearing masks and gloves of course. Before Covid they even made sure you sanitized everything all the time, so I’m sure that they are doing that a lot now and having the theaters with a specific number of guests per room per theater.”  

  While Labriola is not currently employed at Cinemark anymore, she did say she would feel safe returning to work. 

  “I’d say I’d feel safe as far as safety goes with Covid because it seems like it’s very spreadable,” Labriola said. “I would feel pretty safe because they make sure you sanitize everything and that you are wearing gloves and a mask all the time.”  

  Since the Coronavirus is still prevalent in the United States and across the world, many companies have decided to release movies on streaming services such as Disney Plus, which released “Mulan” on Sept. 4, and Warner Bros. Pictures, which is going to release “Wonder Woman 1984” in both theaters and on HBO Max on Dec. 25.  

  According to the Washington Post, Warner Bros. shocked the entertainment world by saying it would put all its 2021 movies on HBO Max at the same time they play in theaters.

  While she enjoys using streaming services, Czekala says she would choose the theater over staying at home.  

  “I personally like to go to the theater because I love the energy and getting to watch a movie on a big screen,” Czekala said.  

  Kubiak had a more cautious approach to returning to theaters.  

  “I never went to the theater that often anyways, so if theaters made sure everyone sat in every other seat, I would feel safe to go every once in a while,” Kubiak said. “If they didn’t have any rules and you could tell they didn’t clean after each showing I wouldn’t want to go.”  

  Labriola personally believes that people’s love for movie theaters will not go away.  

  “They like the popcorn and drink and having fun with family and friends at the theater,” Labriola said.

  When the pandemic ends and life returns to more normalcy, Labriola thinks people will be eager to experience the theater again.  

  “It’s just a nice thing to do and go out.” Labriola said. “I think that a lot of people are going to want to go back to the theater because after being cooped up, I feel like people are going to want to go out and have fun again.”