A picture depicting the entrance of a cinema.

Movie Theaters In 10 Years: Will Movie Theaters Become Obsolete?

Watching movies at the cinema is an experience that can’t be matched at home. But when will movie theaters become obsolete? We all remember how we felt watching an engaging movie on the big screen with our friends. With the growing popularity of streaming services, however, the cinema experience is becoming more of a novelty than a mainstay.

If movie theater attendance continues to dwindle, it will certainly be difficult for theaters to stay relevant. This could have an impact on the countless professionals who depend on the industry, and movie theater skills could become obsolete as well. It’s difficult to predict with certainty, but the end of cinemas could come sooner than we think.

Could movie theaters become obsolete in 10 years? Will movie theaters become obsolete at all, or can they somehow bounce back? We’ll answer these questions and more in our article, so read on to find out.

What Is a Movie Theater?

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A movie theater is an auditorium that contains a large screen designed to display movies for hundreds of viewers. Patrons buy tickets to a particular movie, typically purchase snacks and refreshments, and take their seats among the tiered rows to settle in for a traditional theater experience. With booming surround sound and large, soft chairs for people to sit in, the choice to go to cinema houses and enjoy new or classic films is one that won’t be regretted.

The success of the movie industry is largely dependent on the number of tickets sold at theaters. Major theater companies, like AMC theaters, collaborate with movie producers and filmmakers to pull in crowds to generate revenue. For example, in 2021, Disney chose to release its big-budget films solely in theaters for the last three months of the year.

Will Movie Theaters Be Replaced by Future Technology?

The theater business could be replaced by streaming services if they continue their upward trend. However, since the beginning of cinema history, movie theaters have provided a popular escape for people to get out of the house to relax and mingle with friends.

Even with the alarming death rates of the Coronavirus pandemic and the rise of low-cost streaming platforms like Netflix, movie theaters will likely remain relevant in the entertainment industry. Below are the top reasons why movie theaters aren’t going anywhere, at least not in the next 10 years.

Movie Theaters Can Expand Their Revenue Sources

While ticket sales are the major source of income for movie theaters, it’s not their only avenue for profits. To offset drops in ticket sales, theater companies can invest in other related industries. The food industry, for example, is an alternative source of income for movie theaters.

Perhaps that’s why AMC Entertainment, a major movie theater chain based in the US, chose to invest in the multi-billion dollar popcorn industry. It was a smart investment, born out of a necessity to diversify during trying times.

There’s Still Money in the Movie Industry

High-value movies generate most of their revenue from ticket sales. Since so much money is spent on marketing these movies for theaters, it’s unlikely streaming platforms will completely take over, even with their impressive revenue earnings. Most producers, after all, are encouraged to invest in their movies and promote them to increase ticket sales.

Even if the average ticket price continues to climb, many people will still buy them, partly due to the huge efforts put into digital marketing campaigns. There are still high-paying jobs for many different types of artists that are available in the movie industry. Based on the 2021 third-quarter revenue report from AMC Entertainment, it appears movie theaters remain popular.

Movie Theaters Are a Multi-Purpose Center

People don’t just visit movie theaters to watch movies. Movie theaters have long been a way for movie lovers and critics to connect with each other. Those in the movie business know this and capitalize on it.

Movies are also popular for dates. Some may even go just for that special taste of popcorn that is so hard to recreate in the microwave. Arcades occupy corners in some theaters and the public is even invited to watch popular sporting events on the big screen. Movie theaters’ versatility could help them remain relevant in the future.

Technologies and Trends That Could Make Movie Theaters Obsolete

The experience of cinema isn’t just watching a video on a screen, it’s getting the chance to leave the house and enter a whole new world.

While movie theaters offer a unique experience, there are also other strong contenders in the media entertainment industry. Below are some of the innovations that can be considered an alternative to movie theaters.

Streaming Platforms

Streaming platforms are software applications that provide viewers with original and syndicated content without having to download files. To gain access to these streaming services, you usually need to pay a monthly fee. Examples include Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, and HBO Max.

Streaming platforms have the best shot at replacing movie theaters because they allow you to enjoy some of your favorite movies or television series from the comfort of your home. However, your options are limited depending on which platform you use and it’s often too expensive to subscribe to multiple services.

In-House Theaters

If you visit movie theaters simply for the big screen experience, then you’ll be pleased to know you can set up your own mini-movie theater in your home. However, this option is expensive and it doesn’t create quite the same feeling as going to a theater with a group of your friends.

Playing the latest films won’t be an option as you’ll have to wait for a movie to become commercially available. If you don’t mind not being able to watch the latest releases as soon as they come out, this could be a good alternative for you. You can also learn animation and get familiar with the latest video editing apps to practice making your own movies.

3D Films

The amazing technology of 3D animation provides an interesting alternative to traditional movies. However, this art form only appeals to a certain group of people as it can be somewhat strenuous on the eyes. The necessity to wear special glasses while watching these movies can prove cumbersome for those who wear eyeglasses.

You can watch 3D movies in a media center or at home from your smartphone or television. They are also sometimes shown in theaters. They are a nice novelty, but they likely won’t replace traditional movies anytime soon.

When Will Movie Theaters Become Obsolete?

One cannot say with absolute certainty the exact time that movie theaters will become obsolete. In the foreseeable future, the chances of them losing relevance are slim because movie theaters can be considered a unique art form.

A survey conducted by Statista in 2020 reported that most people preferred to watch movies from the comfort of their homes rather than in a movie theater. Perhaps this was why media giants like Disney, which also owns streaming platforms, choose to restrict certain blockbuster movies to the cinema.

However, because movie theaters present such a unique experience, we can safely assume that if movie theater owners and movie producers continue to devise intelligent schemes to keep the business afloat, theaters will continue to stay relevant.

What This Means for Businesses

If movie theaters become irrelevant because they’ve lost their influence on the market, what would happen to the stakeholders that rely on the continuous operation of movie theaters? There are certainly some that would suffer, as the industry provides work for tens of thousands of people.

Lesser Earning Capacity

Most movie theaters don’t exist in isolation. Some businesses support and benefit from their growth. If movie theaters ceased to exist then these businesses would experience lesser profits. For instance, a movie theater situated in a mall draws customers for shop owners and businesses in the mall.

Lesser Hiring Capacity

If movie theaters become obsolete, then those who work in customer service at theaters will lose their jobs. These people will be forced to switch careers and because streaming platforms rely more on technology than face-to-face interaction, they will find it difficult to find work at these companies.

Lesser Publicity

Movie theaters contribute to the promotion of movies. Theaters invest funds and manpower to ensure a movie draws in large audiences. If they were to become obsolete, the bulk of the promotional tasks would fall on the movie producers.

Production houses know this, and they have no intention of abandoning their partnerships with movie theaters. Profits would take a hit if movie theaters failed. Movie tickets can cost as much as $15, which is a much higher cost per movie than streaming services offer. This is one major reason why those in the industry are keen to keep movie theaters relevant.

Do Movie Theaters Have a Future?

Yes, they do. Most movie theaters have major investors from the movie industry who rely on their continued existence to generate revenue. As a result, the chances of movie theaters becoming obsolete in this decade are slim. However, there is no doubt streaming services are cutting into the profits of movie theaters.

Will Movie Theaters Become Obsolete? FAQ

Why are movie theaters dying?

Movie theaters are dying because of the existence of alternative means of media entertainment. People have more choices than ever for watching content, making a trip to the movies less appealing than it was in the past. Some people prefer to relax at home, order takeout, and binge-watch their favorite series alone or with some company.

Will movie theaters survive when audiences can stream new releases?

Yes, movie theaters will survive even with the growth of streaming services. Not all new releases can be streamed yet and that will likely remain the case for quite some time. You still have to go to the theater to watch the newest movies.

Are movie theaters a thing of the past?

No, they are not. Movie theaters and movie producers have a vested interest in ensuring the survival of theaters and audiences still appreciate the theatrical experience. Judging by the continued existence of theaters and their recent resurgence, their approach has been successful.

How has Covid affected the film industry?

According to Statista, the Covid-19 pandemic caused the global film industry to lose profits that amounted to $10 billion in May 2020 because of widespread shut-downs.

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