The pandemic lockdowns are coming up on nearly a one-year anniversary. It’s affected a lot that we all held dear as the so-called ‘little things’ in life. Whether that’d be bar crawls, going out with friends to clubs or even something as simple as getting together with family, the pandemic hit every aspect of life as we knew it. However, one industry that took a potentially fatal hit were the movie theatres.
Overall box office revenue in 2020 saw its biggest decline in history, with an 80% drop in box office revenue from a nearly $11.4 billion total just a year prior. Over the past decade, it’s no secret that the popularity of movie theatres has been in serious decline. However, with movie series such as “The Hunger Games,” “Marvel’s Avengers” and “Harry Potter,” a lot of these series were some of the more transcendent films that brought people back to theatres in droves. More specifically and more recently, “Avengers: Endgame” became the highest-grossing film of all time after its spring release in 2019. Nevertheless, as the pandemic came along, movie theatres were either forced to shut their doors due to restrictions on gatherings or just to go under in general.
With that in mind, streaming services began to enter the spotlight. Services such as Netflix and Hulu were (and still are) giants in that industry, but with 2020 came the launch of many, many others. Streaming services such as Disney+, HBO MAX, Discovery+, ESPN+ and so many more were released in 2020, with shows and movies of past and present available per their respective companies. Not only that, but said streaming services released their own exclusive content and continue to do so with services like Disney+ releasing “WandaVision” and “The Mandalorian,” or HBO MAX releasing movies like “Zack Snyder’s Justice League.” The services that come along all have different prices, but also come with cable subscriptions like HBO. Some have also teamed up, like Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, to offer one bundle that would look irresistible to the readers who look at the advertisement.
Streaming services have become a part of our culture and, ultimately, have become a part of the entertainment industry more than ever before. As movie theatres continue to decline financially and in popularity, these companies make more money off subscriptions. Movie theatres are being hit from both sides financially, as many have run out of business due to the pandemic and streaming services have taken that revenue.
It is severely important that we don’t forget about what entertainment was, because without movie theatres, movies and entertainment would not be as mainstream as they have become. As we reflect on the progress of entertainment, however, we see that streaming services have become a cornerstone over this past year in order to keep companies alive and in order to save actors’ careers. Who knows, we may see more streaming services in the years to come or they may fizzle out. The future of entertainment is yet to be seen, but a blueprint has certainly arrived.
Jeff Babcock is a fourth-year student majoring in communications and minoring in journalism. Jb884128@wcupa.edu