America’s post-pandemic return to the movies

A person walks past a sign that reads "Be kind. Stay safe."
A pedestrian walks past Grandview Theatre, which features an uplifting message in St. Paul. The movie theater temporarily closed on March 17 in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News 2020

Consider this statistic. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, when theaters and production companies abruptly shuttered, U.S. ticket sales fell an unprecedented 80 percent.

Many industry watchers wondered if the pandemic would be the final nail in the coffin of movie theaters. Even before COVID-19 hit, attendance was dropping, thanks to streaming services like Amazon, Netflix and Disney+.

But cinemas are fighting to come back, and the public appears to be ready for it. At least two movies — the auto-based action film “F9: The Fast Saga” and the horror sequel “A Quiet Place Part II” — have done better than expected. Hollywood has released an ambitious list of blockbusters poised to hit big screens in the next 18 months. And many theater owners say the pandemic forced them to reinvent how they will look and work in a digital world, which will help them survive long-term.

Will you return to the movies? Friday, host Kerri Miller asked that question and got some answers from two arts and culture reporters.  


To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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