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The Reinvention of Movie Theaters in a Post-Pandemic World

  • Movie theater attendance and box office numbers have declined significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Students at UC Davis cherish the experience of watching movies on the big screen in local theaters.
  • Independent theaters face challenges in staying afloat, while chain theaters have larger resources.

For generations, movie theaters have held a special place in our hearts, offering a communal experience of togetherness and celebration. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a significant blow to the industry, with box office numbers plummeting and the rise of streaming services posing a threat to the traditional moviegoing experience.

The Struggle to Regain Footing in a Changing Landscape

Movie theatre
Movie theatre via IMAX

According to Aggie California, ticket sales in 2023 are down 21% compared to four years ago, and the number of wide releases has also declined. Despite this, many UC Davis students remain enthusiastic about the chance to see movies on the big screen, especially in local theaters like the Varsity Theatre and Regal Davis Holiday.

For students like Dari Gonzales and Emily Essex, watching movies at home cannot replicate the magic of the theater experience. The big screen, the shared anticipation, and the immersive atmosphere create an emotional impact that streaming services struggle to match, making movie theaters worth saving.

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The Plight of Independent Theaters

While chain theaters like Regal can rely on larger resources to weather financial storms, independent cinemas across the country have faced unprecedented challenges. The Varsity Theatre, a beloved fixture in downtown Davis since 1921, represents the charm and history that independent theaters bring to communities.

Jenna Gage, a UC Davis student and employee at Regal Davis Holiday, emphasizes the unique ability of movie theaters to transport viewers into the stories being told, an experience that streaming cannot replicate.

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As the entertainment industry continues to evolve, movie theaters face the challenge of reinventing themselves to stay relevant in a post-pandemic world. However, for many UC Davis students, the joy and togetherness fostered by these beloved institutions make them worth preserving.

The movie theater industry continues to adapt, with new releases and initiatives aimed at attracting audiences back to the big screen.

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