The Theatric Experience During Covid
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
by James Reid, contributing writer
With Covid passing 200,000 deaths in America, there still seems to be this passionate outcry about how our personal autonomy to live our lives is being infringed upon. They have thrown out every statement from "Science is lying so we can be herded like sheep." to "I think this is just being overplayed to help Biden gain votes."
The outcry juxtaposed with the greed of corporate industry, and maybe desperation, has lead to cinemas opening up prematurely. It is an odd experience going to the theaters during a pandemic and not one remotely close to what it was like in the past.
According to Boxofficemojo, the premiere financial tracking website for the financial earning of Hollywood and beyond, every year for at least a half decade has seen 11 figures in the Revenue column. The industry was a prevalent form of both art and entertainment in society. Still, is it worth it?
When you’d go there would be long crowds for tickets and even concessions. People would stand so close to you that you could feel the warmth of their breath dancing with the hair on the back of your neck. Now that has all changed. As you look at the floor you will notice circles that prompt six feet of separation. This is hardly necessary based on my experience as the traffic is already low enough that people don't have to feel crowded.
Even though the crowds are smaller, the waiting feels the same. You might not have thirty people waiting in line, but now you have 8 people waiting for one. For something like Endgame, they have people working wherever they can to sell tickets to people as quickly as the employees can go. Now you have one masked up and probably abused worker selling off of one ticket screen. The major difference with tickets is that seats are actually blocked off and they won't let you buy next to someone else.
By the time you get your tickets and are ready for food you'll notice that concessions are short staffed also. They had one person for the five people in front o f me and it took almost more time to get tickets. Theaters are playing the interaction game carefully, and while it may just be cinema sanitation theater it does feel a bit appreciated. Finally I ordered and they have to distribute your butter, straws, and lids personally for purposes of health and safety.
None of this truly felt weird but yet it was still foreign. I felt I was watching a whole new system being born and its more reassuring. I finally got my concessions and went to my auditorium. As I took off my mask someone coughed and the whole idea of only removing your mask to eat or drink seemed counter productive. A disease isn't going to stop because you wanted some popcorn.
The theater goers were spread out which is the single greatest idea that this new system puts into place. People normally don't care if you don't want them to sit next to you. People will buy the only two seats next to me in an empty showing of an arthouse film if they weren't thinking about it, or just don't care. It is nice to be able to enjoy a movie without hearing people discuss every plot point like you weren't right next to them.
As I left I looked around and decided that if I had to recommend going to a movie on the basis that they were actually doing enough, I might be inclined to tell you to go. It comes back to an old adage, which I'm paraphrasing for a Covid world, that my father once said to me, but probably comes from somewhere else. "If you feel the risks aren't there or outweigh the rewards then make your own decision."