As Traditional Theaters Lose Customers Amidst Pandemic, Drive-in Theaters see a Boom in Business

By Jaria Butler

Photography Editor

The movie theater industry was a big source of entertainment before the pandemic hit. Now lots of them are losing money and are in desperate need of clientele. Most AMC and Cinemark theaters have opened back up in our area following strict COVID-19 policies that can be accessed on their website. According to No Film School, AMC is joining the movie theater rental game. For just $99, you can host a personal screening for one, or make it a private party for up to 20 people in total. 

Junior Becca Kampmann expressed her opinion on AMC’s rental policy, commenting, “I think that’s a pretty good idea because [you can see a movie] with everyone you know and it helps the theater make money. I wouldn’t participate in it because that is a lot of money but for someone else, that’s a good idea if they are okay with the cost.”

Despite new safety guidelines, experts say movie theaters are high risk. According to Healthline, Dr. Vinisha Amin, a hospital medicine physician with the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, says that as more cities and counties think of opening their movie theaters, it’s important to note the medical data about how COVID-19 spreads: through respiratory droplets.

That means when people remove their masks to eat popcorn, drink a soda, or laugh during the movie, their chances of potentially transmitting the Coronavirus increases exponentially. “Going to the movie theater is still medically considered a high-risk activity which can predispose greater numbers of individuals to acquire the virus,” Amin said.

Meanwhile, other theaters like Regal and Cineworld are shutting down temporarily. According to CBS Los Angeles, Cineworld, which is the parent company of Regal Cinemas, confirmed in a statement Monday saying it will temporarily close its 536 theaters nationwide beginning on Thursday. It will also close another 127 theaters in the U.K.

While streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu have been on the rise, Americans are now trying to find entertainment outside of the house in a safe manner while following the new limitation because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Due to the pandemic, outdoor movie theaters are becoming more popular again. Ticket sales have been “at least double” of the typical amount everyday since COVID-19, according to Insider.  According to NPR, back in July of 2020 the spike in outdoor movies caused 160 Walmart parking lots to become temporary drive-in movie theaters.

Junior Marsia Lopez conveyed her thoughts on the rise in the drive-in movie theater industry.

“I think drive-in movies are more Covid friendly because you’re able to social distance and stay to yourself. I would go because honestly I think they’re more fun than regular movie theaters and I’d rather be in my own car than in a big room with other people,” she said.

As important as it is to get out the house and have some fun, it is even more important to maintain proper social distancing and sanitation during the pandemic. However, it is still possible to have a good time with loved ones at places such as drive-in movie theaters where social distancing is implemented and safety measures are followed.