What I Want to See: Cinemas in a Post Pandemic World

I love going to the movies. It’s more than just wanting to see new movies, and wanting to see them as soon as possible, but I genuinely love going into a theater getting snacks and a drink and sitting there. I love the trailers, and the feature. I love it all.

I miss going to the movies, it is the one ‘activity’ that’s not super social that I miss. Before the pandemic, my son was almost four and he had finally learned how to behave at a movie theater, and in the first three months of 2020, we saw six movies together. It was amazing, and I foolishly thought it would continue that way until he went off to college.

I’ve heard a lot of people speculating that the movie theaters are going to die off in this pandemic, and I can’t help but hope that everyone is wrong. So, I have come up with a plan, something that I think will help theaters to remain in business through the pandemic.

Bond-style Gift Cards

You’re about to learn how little I know about bonds, and I realize that this is really only the most surface level similarity, but I think gift cards that grow in value is the fix that could save at least the big chains.

So here’s my exact proposal, and obviously the theaters can adjust these numbers as they see fit. Theater’s like AMC, should sell gift cards, we’ll use $20 as an example to show how it will work. You go to AMC (or whatever chain is your favorite) and buy a $20 gift card, but it cannot be used for a year, at which point it will have a value of $25, or you buy a 2 year gift card, and when you finally use it, it’s worth $30.

The average person who might go “oh you know what, the new Fast and Furious is out tomorrow, let’s go see it” might not buy into these kinds of cards, but movie goers who were seeing 6+ movies a year, might—I know I would, and if I were a gambling man, I know at least half a dozen friends who would too.

Would It Work?

I am not deluded enough to think that this would solve the problem outright. Theaters would still hurt, there’s a good chance that depending on the markets they’re in, some will still close, but it might be a life-support measure that could keep them from going under completely.

If there are less theaters, I think that this helps as well. Say you’re in a rural town, and there’s an AMC theater 10 minutes from your house, and you buy a $20 gift card, and then that theater closes and you’re driving 20-30 minutes to a more populated area with an AMC that stays open, you’re getting $25 (or $30) to offset that drive difference.

Please Don’t Let Movie Theaters Die!

I get that for so many people this isn’t a priority, and that when actual people are dying, it probably seems like a problem that doesn’t need to be addressed, but I really think this is the kind of problem that if movie theater owners, and execs work to solve, doesn’t in anyway take away from the humanitarian, and medical solutions, and relief that are so badly needed.

For me, the movie theater is just such a special experience, when other people have been complaining that they haven’t been able to go to a sports game, or do their thing that they enjoy doing, my thing has been the movies. My entire adult life, I’ve been aware of the fact speculation and pressure that are making movie theaters more and more obsolete, and while the theaters have never really fixed the problem, they’ve at least consistently come up with ways to push it back further, and further. Please do that through this crisis too.

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