George Mitchell’s family owned a movie theater in Niantic, Connecticut, that they were forced to close after the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a significant decline in business.
“When the pandemic came, our business dropped to zero,” Mitchell said. “It was the end.”
But while COVID-19 dealt the final blow to some theaters like the Mitchells’, streaming was already forcing a shift. Now, huge changes are underway in the film industry, as a writers strike looms and the business reckons with the impact of streaming services, as well as lingering effects of the pandemic.
This weekend will see the 95th edition of the Academy Awards, with films like “Everything, Everywhere All at Once” and “The Fabelmans” vying with blockbusters like “Top Gun: Maverick” for Best Picture.
But while the move industry pats itself on the back, ticket sales at the box office are down about 35% from pre-pandemic levels — which is unsustainable for smaller cinemas, said Matt Belloni, an entertainment journalist.
“The result after COVID is that we’re seeing the box office concentrated in fewer movies, bigger grosses for the movies like ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home,’ ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ ‘Avatar: The Way of Water,'” Belloni said. “But it’s that middle and lower tier that is really struggling still.”
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