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Resurgence of Movie Theaters: Can Streaming Services Replace In-Theater Experiences?

By Fiona O'Reilly


There is nothing better than “staying in,” tuning into a new movie on Netflix or Hulu and enjoying a new film from the comfort of your own home… right? Some would beg to differ.  


In June 2020, just three months into the pandemic, an estimated 48% of online US adults had a subscription to some streaming service, some of which include Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu. In June of 2021, Forbes predicted that theaters would become a “niche pastime in the face of streaming services,” alluding to the idea that streaming services were taking over the future of movie and TV series viewing. Undeniably, streaming services make entertainment media consumption easy and accessible from one’s home, posing a threat to theaters. However, I feel that going to a movie theater with friends, getting fresh popcorn and enjoying the film in the theater is an exciting experience that we should not let slip out of our grasp. 


Source by Izzy Chu

Nicole Kidman's notorious AMC Theaters commercial brings viewers a sense of comforting excitement as their film is about to begin.


It had been a while since I had seen a movie in theaters, up until July of 2022, when almost every video that came onto my TikTok “For You Page” was a group of teenagers dressing up in hysterical minion outfits, covering their faces in yellow paint or dressed in suits to attend the newest minion movie. Given the hilarious nature of this trend and the use of the new “Minions 2” soundtrack in videos, my friends and I immediately fell victim to the trend and purchased our tickets to the movie. In the days leading up to the movie, we prepared minion outfits and anticipated the film. Upon reflection, the contents of the movie were nothing special, but the experience crafted by its social media hype made going to the theaters so enjoyable. Personally, I feel this event triggered the resurgence of movie theaters for young people. Social media clearly has a strong hold on us all, and we carried this social media craze with us through several movies afterward, including the "Barbie" movie in which people wore bright pink, and the new "Hunger Games" movie, in which TikTok edits of characters in the film flooded my "For You Page."


Past the social media uprisings, there are other unique aspects of recent movies that I believe have captivated audiences. For instance, “Taylor Swift: The Era’s Tour”: the theater in which my friend and I watched the movie felt like a stadium. Almost every viewer was out of their seats and on their feet dancing, making the theater erupt with singing, laughter and sometimes even tears. Another unique movie experience I had was with the new romantic comedy film “Anyone But You.” This film’s perfect use of the pop classic “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield led to the addition of the song to my playlist and my admiration for the film. I think that these unique aspects of new movies help theater experiences evolve past what is traditional.


While the statistics may be ever-changing, I personally feel that going to the theaters will forever be the best way to enjoy a new film, especially given social media trends and unique theater experiences. TV and movies are accessible from everywhere, but the anticipation of a new film followed by fresh theater popcorn is something that a streaming service can’t replicate.

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