Back to the Big Screen

Regal Cinemas Vs. Netflix

There’s something special about going to a movie theater: the cinematic experience has a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’; something that only the most decked-out homes can replicate. For decades, movie theaters have been places where teenagers gather to hang out and have fun. Now, the art of in-person cinema is being overtaken by streaming services that offer new movies for an additional cost, without ever having to leave the house.

With the shutdown of… well, everything in 2020, movies that were scheduled for cinematic release were suddenly delayed, or released on a streaming platform instead. As a result, many would-be box office films were suddenly in the palms of our hands, playing on our devices.

However, these streaming services come with a price. Literally. Viewers have to pay money to watch new movies in addition to the subscription cost of the streaming service. With multiple different streaming platforms competing for viewers (Netflix, HBO Max, and Hulu to name a few), the cost of watching movies from the comfort of a couch becomes unavailable for many people.

Watching movies at home can be a comfort, especially with the pandemic keeping the public inside. Houses are familiar and can be cleaner than the soda sticky seats of the theater. But at-home movies can be isolating because often you’re watching all alone.

Movie theaters provide a place for fans to come together and watch the movie as a community: rejoicing during happy scenes, clapping when a favorite character comes on, or mourning as a group when a character dies. They’re a social outlet for viewers who want the community aspect of watching a movie, complete with popcorn, soda, and friends.

As the world opens up, movie theaters have too. Now, movies are released both in cinemas and through streaming services, and people have the choice to choose either watch option. Many movies currently being released are exclusively in theaters, bringing up the question, will movies only be released in cinemas from now on? Will we ever go back to only streaming service releases?

With the release of Spiderman No Way Home, it certainly seems as though movies are going back to cinemas only. The movie generated $970 million internationally in the box office as of January 23, 2022, almost three times as much as Black Widow, which was released exclusively on Disney+ and generated $379 million after its release in 2021. Another comparison between two popular movies that were released exclusively in theaters and through streaming services respectively is Moana, released in 2016, which garnered $645 million while Disney’s newest princess Raya And The Last Dragon, released in 2021 generated $130 million after its release in select theaters and Disney+. 

The more the world opens back up, the more movies will be released in theaters once again. Regardless of whatever these cinematic franchises choose, the magic of watching new movies will never go away, whether you’re in a movie theater with friends or curled up on a couch eating homemade popcorn.