The Fix is in: How We Return to the Movies

August 10, 2020 was the date of our very first blog where we discussed the Current State of Going to the Movies. We mused how the international pandemic might be the one thing to bring the movie industry to its knees. We commented on how movie rentals tried, streaming tried, and even bootleggers tried, but as of March 2020 we still saw movies making millions and even billions with a capital B!

It’s nearing the end of November and since our first blog the box office has yet to see a movie even close to the billion-dollar range. That is, unless it was a re-release like Guardians of the Galaxy or Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and these movies didn’t make anywhere near that kind of money it was just added to their totals. Maybe the biggest shock is one of the worst movies of the year, Robert Downey Jr’s Dolittle, is actually one of the top ten money makers of 2020.  Anthony Newley and Eddie Murphy are rolling over in their graves! Wait? Ah never mind. Dolittle might be the first time a movie makes the top ten worst and top ten best movies at the same time. 

Ok, you might be thinking, we’ve heard you say this before, and we know how bad it is because we went to see The War with Grandpa. However, the blog title suggests you have a way to fix it? That’s right and to usurp a line from the great Pete Townshend meet the new cure, same as the old cure. If you prefer your blogs to be apolitical, turn away now. We tend to avoid infusing political commentary into our show with the exception of voting on the bachelorette (inside joke for those who tuned into a recent episode of our podcast). To solve the problem, we have to understand how we got ourselves into the problem. If you’re looking for an easy solution, there isn’t one. The answer is ironically that it’s going to take a village.

How did we go from billion-dollar box office to thousand-dollar box office? We actually had a plan to address the pandemic and we started down that path albeit a little late (in March), but it was a start. The problem is we veered off path when people began to get frustrated and even bored.  On top of that, rather than being successfully led across the finish line the pandemic quickly became overly politicized. While COVID cases were starting to slow and doctors implored citizens to stay the course, things like wearing a mask and temporarily closing certain businesses became entangled in a battle over political affiliation and infringing on individual rights.  All this despite scientists and medical professionals warning if we fail to take basic health and safety measures, we could face an even bigger crisis come winter.

Why did so many people choose one path over the other? Why did our worst instincts appear to take over in the face of doctors telling us it would only get worse? Well, in part due to not being presented all the facts about the dangers of COVID-19 when it was first known. Instead, the message was we’re rounding the corner even as cases continued to surge. Unfortunately, that’s the awful truth. It’s been fiction over facts.

So, how do we get back to the movies? We have to jump into the DeLorean and go back to the recent past, not the future and shut things down again.  If we want to go back to the movies, we need to NOT go to the movies likely for at least six months.  We have to wear masks and listen to the medical professionals until the evidence demonstrates it’s safe to do so.  Those vaccines that might cure us?  We likely won’t see them until well into 2021. Front-line workers need to get them first. We have doctors, nurses, and numerous healthcare workers who have sacrificed their time and in some cases their lives to keep this thing from exploding even more. 

As of this writing, 260,000 plus people have died in the United States. As we embark on Thanksgiving week, people appear to still be ignoring the expert’s advice to avoid traveling and indoor gatherings this holiday.  Just look to the skies for evidence of this. Air traffic has increased 100 times this week. Why not sacrifice one Thanksgiving for many more? Let’s take a look at the number of COVID cases three weeks from now and determine if it was worth the risk.

We mentioned it would take a village. Our job is to simply not go to a movie until circumstances have markedly improved.  Would it be that terrible to watch some of the greatest movies ever made for six months while we wait for vaccine delivery to the masses?  To do this, people need government assistance. Pay those unable to work so every ticket taker, movie house, and business directly impacted by the pandemic can survive to thrive once again.

To continue down the same path is to ignore how to fix the problem and the definition of insanity.  Movie studios can continue their story telling as streaming services get bigger and better.  Rather than shelving new blockbuster movies until they can be assured of grossing billions, movie executives are going to have to sacrifice. Talent is going to have to earn less.  Like the Three Musketeers, it’s all for one and one for all or none at all. That’s the hard truth. 260,000 plus people can never enjoy another night out at the movies, but if we work together you and I can once again engage in one of our favorite past-times. Let’s put the divisive rhetoric down and our masks on so we can saddle up to the concession stand once again just in time for a highly anticipated sequel to The War with Grandpa.

Stay safe everyone!

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