Patty Jenkins: ‘We could lose movie theater-going forever’

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Patty Jenkins’ original Wonder Woman was one of the highest-grossing superhero movies of all time with a worldwide gross of almost $822 million. The follow-up, Wonder Woman: 1984, is still slated to be released on December 25 of this year, after being pushed back multiple times. It’s probably not going to come out then, but the success of these mega budget movies really depends on a robust movie-going market, which just exist right now. We just heard that all Regal theaters are closing in the US until at least 2021. While AMC is still chugging along, we could lose so many smaller theaters, and even that entire industry, to the pandemic. Jenkins gave an interview to Reuters in which she said that the theater industry needs a bailout too or we could lose it.

“If we shut this down, this will not be a reversible process,” she said in an interview from her home in Los Angeles. “We could lose movie theater-going forever.”

While theater attendance has rebounded in some countries following a global shutdown in March, the U.S. market is struggling. Cineworld Group Plc CINE.L is temporarily closing Regal locations that reopened in August. The National Association of Theatre Owners said 69% of small and mid-sized cinema companies could be forced to file for bankruptcy or shutter permanently.

Jenkins said widespread closures would lead Hollywood studios to stop investing in films for theaters, and turn to streaming instead.

“It could be the kind of thing that happened to the music industry,” she said, “where you could crumble the entire industry by making it something that can’t be profitable.”

Expensive action movies like “Wonder Woman” would be much less common on streaming, she said, and audiences would miss out on the experience of watching on a big screen in a large group.

“I don’t think any of us want to live in a world where the only option is to take your kids to watch a movie in your own living room,” she said, “and not have a place to go for a date.”

[From Reuters]

If you read my writeup on Regal cinemas closing, you’ll know how completely sad this prediction makes me. It’s something I’ve though about too, what it would be like to lose movie theaters, but mostly from an audience perspective. Directors and filmmakers like Jenkins realize the effect it will have on their entire industry. It will dictate the types of films that get made, and blockbusters could be a thing of the past. In a way it will be nice to move toward more story-telling and independent films, but women’s superhero movies have only just started to be told, and they’re only just starting to get diverse. We just heard that Nia DaCosta is directing Captain Marvel 2, and she will be the first Black woman to direct a Marvel film. It’s a shame that the sea change in superhero movies might not happen.

Once it’s safe I want the theater experience back so much. Given how messed up the government is now, they’re not going to save movie theaters any more than they’re going to save the US populace from themselves. Once we turn the senate and WH blue, hopefully that will change. (Knock all the wood.)

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51 Responses to “Patty Jenkins: ‘We could lose movie theater-going forever’”

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  1. AGreatDane says:

    I could lose my life, Patty. It’s almost winter, people are being evicted, there’s another storm about to hit the Gulf Coast, I don’t think this is the time to try and guilt trip people back into poorly ventilated movie theatres that overcharge for stale Raisinets. Put your movies on VOD and adjust like everyone else.

    • Milkweed says:

      Great comment! I totally agree.

    • SusieQ says:

      Completely agree! I’m much more upset that my local hospital closed than the local movie theaters. And I hate the multiplexes anyway. There’s a wonderful little independent theater nearby that I adore, and I hope it stays afloat (it has absolutely lovely art deco details and the best popcorn you’ve ever had in your life), but there are definitely more important things.

    • Va Va Kaboom says:

      Yeah, I almost feel badly that I can’t muster much compassion or understanding for Jenkins’ right now, but I just can’t do it. I read about movie theaters closing and I think of the jobs lost, not the lost art of movie-going.

      Though her comments are interesting because it shows the magnitude of this economic crisis is beginning to pierce even the Hollywood bubble. But the rest of us have been living this nightmare for months now and I’m not here for someone who just realized she isn’t quite as insulated from the fallout as she once assumed.

      And if we really want to discuss loss, read up on the increasing rates of domestic violence, child abuse, and suicides. We’re headed into the holidays, meanwhile millions of families will be evicted and its likely Covid will have a resurgence. Throw in the election results (people are going to get violent no matter who wins) and those numbers are going to reach even more devastating heights.

    • MF1 says:

      Yes, thank you. I’m very much into movies and will be sad if this is the long-term outcome, but I’m not risking my life. If she’s so worried about movie theaters, she should stop the guilt-tripping and start rounding up some of her high-powered Hollywood friends to lobby Congress for a bailout.

    • Oy_Hey says:

      Agree.
      She and the stars a rich enough to weather a storm.
      I feel bad for gaffers, sound guys and gals, extras, food service folks. But they all still get paid if movies are made in a safety bubble (shout to to JDW and Zendaya) and put on VOD. Just saying…

    • Case says:

      YES. Thank you.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      I have to agree with you. Movies will live on. It just might look differently for awhile. We have bigger fish to fry right now.

    • molly says:

      Oh my gosh thank you this is so tone deaf. I mean it’s sad, and movie theaters are a lot of people’s first jobs but in the scheme of things and all the other effects of the pandemic this is not where my concern lies…..and maybe we’ll go back to the golden-age of movies like in the seventies, not geared toward 12 year olds, could be an upside to all of this….

    • Meg says:

      I don’t think caring about theatres means she’s careless about people dying, evictions, etc. People can care about more than one thing

  2. Jess says:

    We could lose our moms, our children. I’m not too worried about overpriced, crowded movie theatres right now. The repertorys will hopefully survive; the megaplexes — meh, who cares?

  3. DiegoInSF says:

    Even though I loved WW, I think it’s actually a good thing if not every big movie is a superhero movie like it’s been these past few years. Movie theater experiences were such a crapshoot to me, you never knew when they’d be someone talking, chewing loudly, on their phones.

  4. (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

    If ANYONE/THING DESERVES A “BAILOUT” IT’S THE AMERICAN PEOPLE! Frankly I don’t give a damn about theaters closing. Eventually, when the virus is manageable large-scale, things WILL come back, I’m not worried about them. I worry about the families that can’t make rents/mortgages, that lost their jobs, their healthcare, that wait for HOURS in MILES LONG food bank lines. THIS is what worries me. NOT YOUR OVER PAMPERED, OVER PAID ASSESS…which you can take SEVERAL SEATS WITH.

    My God, the disassociation with some people!

    There is a HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS, AIRBORNE disease running rampant through our country/world. Release to VOD, PPV, whatever. It won’t be forever. Let’s deal with THIS, and then your precious movies will come back. Remember…dead people don’t watch movies.

  5. Dutch says:

    The story you linked to about WW being the highest grossing super hero origin story is out of date and was written in 2017 before Captain Marvel’s 2019 release. Captain Marvel’s worldwide box office is $1.128 billion, which is significantly more than WW’s take.

  6. Noodle says:

    Why isn’t she appealing to Disney, Marvel, etc for money to keep theaters stable enough to reopen when it is safe? The people and studios who make the most money from movie going should be the ones to fund that movie going. I don’t understand why it’s being posed that theaters need a bailout, ostensibly from movie-goers, when we already fund it all. If they want to keep making these huge action juggernauts, they can pay the pennies it would cost to keep open the theaters where those juggernauts are best experienced. I find it so odd that theaters operate on such thin margins that our concessions basically pay the workers, but the many of the producers, studios and actors walk away with (b)millions.

  7. Dacia Boyce says:

    Yeah with streaming the music industry didn’t crumble…far from it. Everyone has to adapt at some point.

  8. Vote Science says:

    The issue is so many people (myself included) had overall negative experiences going to movie theaters before COVID (live performances were a different story). Other audience members are loud and obnoxious, the seats are uncomfortable, the theaters usually messy or rundown-looking. I generally enjoyed going to movie theaters, but it doesn’t have any magic that distinguishes it from home viewing anymore, which is more convenient, cheaper, and more enjoyable.

    • Christin says:

      Agree. It was an overpriced experience when technology has made home viewing far more preferable.

      My spouse enjoys going to movies, and reserved a seat at a new, very nice movie theater in the next town that promotes choosing your seat online. Seats were like home recliners – just a nice, new place. When he arrived for a sparsely attended matinee showing, guess what? The seat he reserved online was already taken. That was before the pandemic, of course.

      Even he agrees the prices are high and you just never know about the audience factor.

  9. Audrey says:

    Why can’t the industry come back in 3-5 years once we’ve got COVID contained? The buildings will still be there. I don’t understand all of this lamenting that things are closing forever. For example, if a restaurant is closing because of COVID, that’s just the legal entity that is closing. The chef, owner, staff, they are what make a restaurant and once this is over, and hopefully with financial help from the government, they can open new restaurant. The entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t go away just because the physical space is closed temporarily. In Chicago we had the Great Chicago Fire. Most of the buildings and businesses were burned down, but the PEOPLE remained and built back stronger. I see that for our country as well.

    • Dutch says:

      How do you expect a business to remain viable with no revenues for 3-5 years? Buildings like multiplexes need to be maintained, heated, cooled, water running, etc. and all that requires money. Your restaurant analogy doesn’t apply because ALL restaurants aren’t shutting down. If your favorite steakhouse shuts down, you still have options to eat at or get takeout from dozens of other places. How many restaurants would be able to come back successfully if there were no dining out options for 3-5 years and people’s habits changed? There might be a few, but eating out would largely become an antiquated experience. Same goes for going to the movies, which had been trending the wrong direction and is now in a freefall due to COVID.

      • Audrey says:

        The existing business and buildings may not still be standing, but the people that built them and made them successful will still be around (or there will be new young ones to replace them).

  10. lucy2 says:

    I think people will be eager to go back, especially for the big tent pole movies like WW – once it’s safe to do so.
    I miss going, it’s a different experience than sitting in my own house, and some movies really need to be seen on the big screen to fully appreciate them. But I’m not going until it’s truly safe.

  11. FilmTurtle says:

    It’s possible the mega-corporations that own the studios are running out the clock until the longstanding antitrust regulations (Paramount Consent Decrees, in place for 75 years) are allowed to expire in 2022. The current DOJ pushed it through, of course. That means it will be possible for one company to own the complete supply and distribution chain again and squeeze out their competitors (so too damn bad if you want to see Patty’s next superhero movie if you live in a town where the only theaters are owned by Disney). But will the chains even be worth anything in a couple of years?

    Almost everyone craves a communal experience, but like others have said upthread, going out to the movies is such an overpriced, often unpleasant crapshoot and has been for years and years and years and years. You won’t find much sympathy.

  12. Marietta58 says:

    I personally can’t wait to go to the movies again. I’m obviously in the minority here. Something about going to go to the movies when I was a kid, seeing a film on the big screen was something I always loved. Yes, I could watch it on my big screen TV, but it’s not the same. Not to mention, I don’t want to bring a guy I’ve only been on one date with back to my house/or go to his house because we want to “watch a movie.”

    But as I said, I know I’m in the minority.

    @vote science, I don’t know what theaters you’re going to, but I go to AMC and they always have the seats that recline all the way back and give you quite a bit of room. And yes, there are rundown theaters, but for the most part a ton have renovated and made it a more relaxed and comfortable environment.

    • Vote Science says:

      There’s an AMC near me that my husband and I went to frequently pre-COVID, and yes, that one was fine, but I’ve been to quite a few others that are really messy or in need of renovation. The audience factor probably gives me a negative hindsight bias, there’s been SO MANY times my experience was completely ruined by other audience members.

  13. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I can’t remember the last time I wanted to watch a movie with dozens of strangers. And the last time I actually did go was a theater that served food and drink to me in my oversized leather recliner lol.

  14. Sam the Pink says:

    Would it really be a terrible thing if movies transitioned to a more “watch from home” format? I mean, isn’t that what Netflix and Amazon have been doing for a while now? Netflix premiered Roma, which nearly won Best Picture at the Oscars. And streaming seems to open the door far more to more diverse films, which is a good thing. This “tent pole” blockbuster model is, well, maybe not so good. Studios have become so reliant on these super expensive, hyped up, big “name power” films, and its getting tiresome.

  15. Rose says:

    Doesn’t bother me in the slightest. There’s a plague on, the up charge for snacks is insane, it was almost $100 for my family to go see a film the last time we did it (had we waited four months, we could catch it streaming for free) and there’s always those people who talk, are on their phones, or bring a toddler to an R rated movie at 11 pm and won’t leave when they invariably have a meltdown. Why deal with any of that when I can watch movies in the privacy and comfort of my home? Which is what we’ve been doing because you know, plague.

  16. Case says:

    Her comments honestly make me mad, and I love going to the movies. I LOVE film and going to the movie theater was one of my favorite pastimes pre-COVID. I’d go every week if I could. And Wonder Woman is really important to me, so I’m super excited for the sequel.

    But there’s a freaking pandemic. Movie theaters should not be open right now, full stop. They unnecessarily gather large groups, are poorly ventilated, and pretty much solely offer finger foods. They’re simply not feasible during the pandemic and should’ve never reopened during the last few months to begin with. It’s not responsible to keep them open. I’m sorry if that means some will close permanently, but I can’t worry about that. I’m worried about my life and my loved ones’ lives, and we don’t take trips anywhere we don’t absolutely need to be.

    I hope the government provides some aid to the arts (primarily stage theaters, who are suffering immensely right now by very literally not being able to open safely), as it’s an industry that employs SO many people and is responsible for so much tourism in places like NYC.

  17. Steph says:

    Has she never heard of a drive in before?

    The industry needs to pivot to more drive in experiences for those tent pole type movies. I’m sorry, but no way in heck would I sit inside a movie theater until this thing is gone and I used to see three movies a weekend (amc pass). Just like everyone needs to pivot during this crisis and the next couple of years as we review and rebuild, the entertainment industry needs to pivot as well.

    • Case says:

      Agreed. All of these movie theaters that are suffering should use their giant buildings and giant parking lots to screen drive-in movies. They need to pivot if they want to stay alive just like every other business. The answer can’t be that customers just need to suck it up and risk their lives to keep the theaters in business, lol.

    • Darla says:

      Yep. We’ve all had to pivot. Maybe not all of us, but a lot of us. I had to. I did. This is how invention comes about. Or, reinvention. Reinvent the drive thru experience for the 21st century! I don’t get what the issue is.

    • deering24 says:

      Seriously, how expensive and hard could it be to do pop-up drive-in theaters? If the industry had started planning for this back in the summer, they’d at least have some groundwork for holiday viewing. It doesn’t say much for the industry’s forethought that they apparently bet everything on a vaccine being available by Xmas or whatever.

  18. Darla says:

    I loved going to the movies for years. Especially in the 90′s one of my favorite things to do was go by myself to matinees. I really find the crowded “communal” experience at movies overrated. I loved the quiet matinees. But like everyone else, these days, with all the technology not to mention my recliner, I prefer watching from home. I did go see the big Marvel and DC movies in the theatres, but I also miss the little gems. I love what Netflix and Hulu and Prime are doing. Even Apple+. I think Marvel has taken over the film industry, and as much as I am a Marvel stan, it won’t be the worst thing if they stop being so huge. And we’ll always have the OG Avengers.

  19. Valiantly Varnished says:

    While I get her point and I agree to an extent, now is not the time for this. Truly. 200k + and counting Americans have died. They predict that by the end of this 400k will have died. These are first world problems.

  20. Sass says:

    I cackled about the tv in the living room and going to the theater for a date night. Wtf are those exactly?? I get to see a movie in a theater AT MOST once a year. We bought a projector and stream whatever we want whenever it’s released. 🤷🏼‍♀️ That’s been our life for six years. Before that we just didn’t keep up with movies because we couldn’t afford to. I did drive by a movie theater and it was weird to see the lot empty and the building closed. Still, maybe it’s because I was poor for so long that I found her comment out of touch.

  21. GamerGirl says:

    The movie-going experience has been declining for years, unfortunately. People treat theatres like their living room.

  22. Moxylady says:

    I haven’t been able to go to a movie in the USA since the mass shooting. So for me- and a lot of people I know – the theater aspect has long been gone.
    It really sucks.

  23. The Recluse says:

    Bring back the Drive In Theater. It will help to some extent.
    I miss going out to the movies too, but I am unlikely to indulge until we have a genuine vaccine.

  24. Kkat says:

    I’m in Southern California and we had a couple old drive in theaters open up.
    And at the mall near me they are doing drive in movie nights in the parking lot.

  25. misia says:

    yes, I think the moviegoing as we know it might change, I can easily imagine cinemas changing into a rent a homelike setting with great setup and stream what you want. still you would be able to go with a grup and not into your home as well as not investing into the equpment. But with the prices of cinema nowadays, everything that is not a 3d- and well done 3d, can be watched on a fantastic quality beamers in 4k with surround

  26. jg11364@yahoo.com says:

    I don’t enjoy going to the movies for ages. People can’t shut up and act like they are the only ones there and have full on conversations during the movie. The last time I really enjoyed a packed movie was 2015 Star Wars movie. Everyone was so mesmerized seeing these characters return to the screen. It was silent and just cheers and applause at the right moments. I will cherish that memory.

  27. Amanda says:

    Wow don’t know where you guys live but I have been to severe all movies in the last few months. Watching a movie in a theater is special. It would be a great loss if these unnecessary lockdowns took the joys of sharing cinema from us along with everything else we’ve already allowed them to take from us.

  28. Amanda says:

    Wow don’t know where you guys live but I have been to severe all movies in the last few months. Watching a movie in a theater is special. It would be a great loss if these unnecessary lockdowns took the joys of sharing cinema from us along with everything else we’ve already allowed them to take from us.