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How Moviegoers Can Save Movie Theaters

Oppenheimer looks at the explosion from the atomic bomb wearing eye goggles

Despite the troubled state of movie theaters, there are three ways audience behavior can make things better! We go over how moviegoers can save movie theaters.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, it was feared that it may be the official death of movie theaters. But lo and behold, four years later, theaters are still alive and … very much not well. Sure, we’ve had some major hits like Inside Out 2 and the one-two punch of Barbie and Oppenheimer, but these have been few and far between, and the average box office for 2024 in particular has been really weak. I’m at a point now where I’m crossing my fingers that freaking Despicable Me 4 is a major success. That’s how you know things are getting desperate.

But while the movie theater industry is undeniably past its prime, it doesn’t have to be on its deathbed. Not only are there ways that studios and theaters themselves can get things back on track, but I believe that there are three ways even you – yes, you! – can help if you’re a regular moviegoer. You may think you have no power here, but it’s like the great Madame Web once said: when you take on this responsibility, great power will come. So, if you’re like me and want the theatergoing experience to be preserved and improved, sit back and enjoy my list of how moviegoers can save movie theaters.

Share what you’re seeing

Zendaya sits on a bed between Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor in the 2024 film Challengers, featured in an article about How Moviegoers Can Save Movie Theaters
How Moviegoers Can Save Movie Theaters – Challengers (MGM)

The Barbenheimer phenomenon really got me thinking about what drives people to see movies nowadays. How did a hyper-political movie about a children’s doll and a three-hour biopic about the atomic bomb become such massive successes while other, supposedly higher-profile movies flopped? Because we made them a big deal. We put so much focus and attention on them that they transcended the cinephile bubble and caught the eyes of everyone. These movies suddenly looked not just good, but important to see, and so they were. If we want people to check out more films in theaters, maybe we need to put that much energy and focus on other films we’re excited about.

If you’re looking forward to A Quiet Place: Day One or Twisters, bring it up to the people in your life. Tell them why you’re excited and why you think they might like it too, just like you’d talk about the next big Marvel movie, as if the film in question should be anticipated to that degree. If you see something you love, again share why, online and in real life. Don’t go overboard as if it’s the most important thing in the world, but throw in just a little bit more hype where appropriate.

I just find it hard to believe that films like Challengers or Abigail wouldn’t have pulled in bigger audiences had their discussions reached more people. So, keep the talk casual, but keep it consistent, no matter what you’re seeing. It may influence your friends more than you think. And please don’t forget about the memes. That’s very important.

Shift your viewing priorities

A man clenches his first in Boy Kills World, featured in an article about How Moviegoers Can Save Movie Theaters
How Moviegoers Can Save Movie Theaters – Boy Kills World (Roadside Attractions)

Many may disagree, but I believe film quality is why a lot of people aren’t going to theaters. A lot of recent films lack the drive and purpose that should be luring audiences in. But this largely applies to the bigger, more inherently commercial movies, whereas I’m much more optimistic about the realm of mid- to small-budget works like Challengers and Civil War. Though grand spectacle has been proven to draw in audiences, I think Hollywood needs to be pushed just as hard to make these kinds of films. The more of them there are, the more standout, high-quality movies people may feel compelled to see in theaters. But in order for that to happen, we need to vote with our wallets and go to see them ourselves … even if they take the place of some bigger films we see.

If you’ve got the means of seeing basically as many movies as you want in theaters, then go crazy. But if you have to pick and choose what you see and what you skip, I would at the very least consider foregoing the next average-looking sequel or superhero movie in favor of something that looks better and more unique. I know I sound like a huge snob by saying that, and I swear I don’t want to guilt anyone who doesn’t do this. All I’m saying is that if your favorite franchises or most anticipated movies aren’t delivering anymore, you have plenty of other options in theaters that may give you something even more special. This may be the best time to use them, even if only to test them out.

Tell theaters about their issues

Aquaman stands looking angry, in a still featured in an article about How Moviegoers Can Save Movie Theaters
How Moviegoers Can Save Movie Theaters – Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (Warner Bros. Pictures)

In the past, whenever something funky was going on with a theater’s amenities or upkeep, I’d just shrug it off and deal with it. But now, with how much I know theaters are struggling, I’ve started actively going to employees and letting them know what’s wrong. Not in a standoffish or complaining way, but just to try and be helpful so they know about it. For example, when my showing of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom was running late, I made sure to let someone know so we could get a move on. (And then when the movie was over, I wished the problem was never fixed.)

Will this always work? I really don’t know. It depends on how bothered they are to actually go in and fix whatever’s wrong, or if they even can. But I do know that the longer the issue goes unaddressed, the longer it’s guaranteed to stay and the more people will probably be too fed up with a theater to come back. When the same soap dispensers in my theater’s bathroom are empty week after week after week, the side of my brain that believes in basic human decency has to believe it’s because none of the theater workers know about it. Especially since poor hand-washing is part of the big event that decimated theaters back in 2020. So, if more of us kindly point out a problem, we may see some results. At the very least, we’d be able to say that we tried.

Find out how movie theaters can save themself below and read our article on how film studios can save movie theaters!

How Movie Theaters Can Save Themselves – Loud And Clear Reviews
It’s a rough time for movie theaters, but we look at four ideas for how movie theaters can save themselves and be stable again!
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