Small screens defined the pandemic. Is the big screen on its way back?

Jackson Huston

Even the story-tellers were not exempt from the now universal story of March 2020: the pandemic hit, and everything changed.

Because of COVID-19, companies in the entertainment industry were forced to delay and cancel events. That trend continued into this year, with high profile awards shows like the Golden Globes being held virtually and spawning jokes about red carpet versus couch fashion.

Entertainment in front of mass audiences has suffered major losses. Disney’s “Black Widow” was delayed almost a whole year, but the minds at Disney also shifted tactics entirely for film releases: the live action remake of “Mulan” was released straight to streaming through Disney+. Disney also moved up the streaming debut of fan favorite Frozen 2 in the early days of the pandemic to provide some relief to families struggling to entertain children at home. Blockbusters like Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II” have been delayed by more than a year as movie theaters struggle to bring in audiences. 

“I miss the environment of watching a new movie on the big screen and the excitement that comes with it,” said Katherine Freeburg, a senior and secondary English education major at UK.

As studios find ways to release already completed films without taking a total loss, the pandemic has led studios to rethink their future as well. Some studios like Warner Brothers have decided to make their new releases available to the public through their respective streaming services while simultaneously releasing them in theaters. Other studios, however, will determine their release format on a case by case basis like Disney. Disney plans on saving their most lucrative films for the theater while the titles that they believe will pull in less of an audience will be put on Disney+.

However, the option to stream may not be the death of movie theaters. Some students say they will return to the movie theater when given the option because the viewing experience is so special.

“I don’t have a 100-inch TV at home, and I’m at home all the time. Going out with friends and experiencing something together is better than simply sitting on the couch with everyone,” said junior Dillon Ellzey, an English major at UK.

While the streaming services reign supreme currently, when enough people are vaccinated and cases decline nationwide it should come as no surprise to see a full theater of eager audience members.