The Movie Industry Vs. COVID-19


Eden Golomb and Sasha Londoner

From production to presentation, the film industry has been wildly impacted by the COVID-19 virus. Movie-goers have seen the effects themselves. Whether it was the mandatory seat distance or required mask wearing, a variety of new safety precautions were set in place at the start of the pandemic. Additionally, theaters big and small have been striving to find new ways to stay afloat financially as COVID-19 begins to become less prevalent. 

Specifically, countless movie theaters have had to find a way to maintain income while keeping staff and movie buffs alike safe. Cobble Hill Cinemas, a Brooklyn neighborhood theater, created an ingenious solution. To combat the loss in sales, they allowed a local elementary school, P.S. 29, to use their space when they could not. This allowed them to insure that they would survive the pandemic since many other businesses in the area could not. 

Andrew Elgart, a Cobble Hill Cinemas management employee, noted in an email to the Polygon, ”we have always worked with schools. [It’s] been like that for years.” Their commitment to local education paid off well. Without it, they might have had no choice but to shut their doors forever as so many other local businesses in the area had.  

Additionally, on the wider scale of the entertainment industry, COVID-19 has caused an all time 40-year financial low within the industry. According to a Variety news article, “About 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer going to multiplexes, and….roughly 8%, have likely been lost forever.” Multiplexes are theaters that have several different screening rooms, and since they occupy the majority of popular theater companies, the substantial decrease of their attendees emphasizes the detrimental effects the virus has had on theaters. 

As well as diminishing spectators, massive changes in public health regulations demonstrate the changes that were made in response to COVID-19. On April 26th of 2021, the New York government mandated that “any movie theater is limited to no more than 33% of the maximum occupancy….inclusive of employees and patrons…[only] if they wear an acceptable face covering at all times.” In contrast to the previous freedom granted to guests, decreased attendance is one of many examples of obligatory altercations in theater protocol. Even now when these rules have changed or are no longer being enforced, theaters are still trying to get back to what once was.  

Fortunately, things within the industry are beginning to get back to normal. Masking and seat distancing is optional, and theaters can have their original occupancy. New movies, such as Top Gun Maverick and Nope are being successfully released in theaters, causing people to return, and theaters to thrive once again. “It’s gradual. It’s not a light switch,” said Jeff Goldstein, the domestic distribution chief of Warner Bros, in a Variety article. “Behavioral changes take a while.”