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The student news site of Stockbridge High School

Uncaged

The student news site of Stockbridge High School

Uncaged

Leaving the big screen

The rise of streaming services vs. the fall of movie theaters
The+neon+lit+building+of+the+MJR+in+Brighton+is+a+popular+place+for+students+and+families+to+watch+newly+released+movies.
Taiyler Stanfield
The neon lit building of the MJR in Brighton is a popular place for students and families to watch newly released movies.

Back in the day, going to the movies was the thing to do. It was the ideal place for a date, a nice family outing, and hangouts between friends. It was ‘in’, according to Digital History. But what about now? Well, starting in 2020, a steady decline in movie theater popularity began. This includes ticket sales, revenue and attendance according to the University of Michigan. While there are a few things credited for the downfall of theaters, including the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted life worldwide, the most prominent and continuing reason turns out to be the rapid rise of streaming services within recent years.
“Yes, I have most definitely noticed a disinterest in movie theaters nowadays, and I would say that it started with the pandemic, and it’s from there that streaming platforms have sort of overshadowed theaters,” ninth grade History teacher Corey Baird said. “And it’s sad, really, because theaters had to start actually shutting down due to this and the pandemic.”
The 2020 pandemic and the start of the growing popularity of streaming services go hand in hand. COVID-19 shut down the world for nearly three years, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During this global lockdown, movie theaters struggled because of all the pandemic-related restrictions and the lowering number of people going out due to fear of contracting the deadly virus. In fact, according to the New York Times, over 600 theaters closed in North America during the years of the pandemic. However, while physical theaters floundered, the enjoyment people have always derived from watching movies did not. That’s why it was during this time that streaming services began to flourish as per the Jumpstart Magazine. Platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus and other streaming services began to gain immense popularity because they allowed people to watch all their favorite movies from the safety of their own homes.
“I’ve always loved movies. The pandemic didn’t change that, but I definitely watched movies from home way more often,” senior Kaden Carpenter said. “It just felt much safer that way and was more comfortable since I didn’t have to wear masks and do stuff like that at my house, I feel like a lot of people felt that way.”
Movie theaters took a hit during the pandemic, they’re not faring much differently today. Statistics have shown that theaters have only continued to dwindle post-pandemic. According to CNBC, from January to June 2019, 57 films were released in 2,000 theaters or more. In 2023, there were only 45 releases during that same period. However, the number of films released is not the only thing that is declining. Attendance at movies has gone down as well as significantly fewer people have gone to theaters in recent years. This notion seems to be shared among the younger generations.
“To this day, I still definitely watch more movies at home, probably a few a week,” Carpenter said. “I have three services, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus, so it’s just easier to do it from home.”
Carpenter is not alone in these thoughts.
“I do find myself watching movies more at home rather than at a theater,” senior Antonio Henderson said. “It’s just more convenient that way.”
Another senior, Gaven Numinem, also shares similar conceptions.
“I have like four or five streaming platforms so I have access to a wide range of movies,” Numinem said. “So, yeah, I tend to watch more movies from home.”
The convenience of streaming services plays a big role in the overtaking of movie theaters. However, that’s not the only reason why they’re so booming right now. They have something that movie theaters have never and will never be able to offer. Streaming services offer more than just movies; they also have plenty of people’s favorite shows available and at the ready.
“Streaming platforms having TV shows as well plays a big role, in my opinion, to the obvious favoritism to them over movie theaters,” Baird said. “You know, you can just sit at home and have access to thousands of movies and shows and I think this is why theaters have never really been able to quite get back on their feet even after the pandemic.”
Even with all these facts and statistics pertaining to the notion that movie theaters are a thing of the past, old habits still die hard. Though attendance at movie theaters has significantly gone down, it has not completely diminished due to the nostalgic feelings movie theaters exude when watching a film from the big screen. It is because of this feeling that people keep coming back to the theaters, even with access to almost all of the same movies from their couch.
“I enjoy watching movies at a theater more than at home, even if I don’t do it as often as before. I feel that the atmosphere that a theater has gives a sense of nostalgia and intense scenes more emphasis and jumpscares more fear due to the surround sound,” Henderson said. “At home, some movies can lose that effect, plus the smaller screen and glare that can come with the sun, scenes can lose their effect.”
Though Carpenter tends to stay home instead of going to the movie theater, she agreed that theaters do have a different atmosphere than watching movies at home.
“Though I definitely watch movies more from home, I do wish I got out to theaters more often as well,” Carpenter said. “I enjoy the theaters more as it makes me more excited and into the movie.”
Even Numinem, with all his streaming services, agrees that he enjoys the environment of the theaters more than sitting at home.
“Oh yeah, I prefer the theaters for sure,” Numinem said. “I like the big screen and the audio.”
It seems that movie theaters have a hidden weapon too. They may not have TV shows and aren’t necessarily as convenient, but they do hold a place in everybody’s hearts and host a more immersive environment than living rooms do.
“I’ll always hold a special kind of love for movie theaters. It doesn’t matter how nice streaming platforms are. At the end of the day, I’m always going to prefer a theater over any service cause nothing beats the feeling of watching a movie on the big screen with a big tub of popcorn,” Baird said. “I might not go as often as I should, but I’ll always return eventually.”

Box office hits

“Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” made a total of 152.9 million dollars opening weekend. “Barbenheimer, Barbie & Oppenheimer Movie Poster” by Chike is licenced under CC BY-NC 4.0 DEED
“Bob Marley: One Love” made 51 million dollars on opening weekend. “Bob Marley One Love – Original Movie Poster” by Diana Oliveira is licenced under CC BY-NC 4.0 DEED
“Anyone But You” made 6 million dollars on opening weekend. “Anyone But You Movie Poster” by Gökçe AkgüL is licenced under CC BY-NC 4.0 DEED
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About the Contributors
Kaitlyn Oversmith, Reporter
For the first and last time, Kaitlyn Oversmith is an Uncaged reporter for the 2023-24 school year. Besides recently joining the world of Journalism, she is also a member of NHS. Outside of school, Kaitlyn enjoys reading and movies, particularly in the horror genre. She has also been a competitive dancer for the past twelve years and is currently preparing for her last show. After high school, Kaitlyn aspires to be a lawyer and hopes to eventually attend U of M for law school.
Taiyler Stanfield, Editor In Chief
Taiyler Stanfield joined Uncaged halfway through her junior year and is an Editor-in-Chief this year. When she’s not yelling at students to do their work or editing articles for hours at a time, she enjoys spending quality time with her family. After graduating, Taiyler plans to quit her full-time job Tokyo-drifting on the way to school to attend Eastern Michigan University, where she will pursue a degree in Young Adult Literature to become an editor for a publishing company. If all hope is lost, Taiyler will instead pursue screenwriting in hopes that one day she will make the big bucks and win an Oscar for the blood, sweat, and tears she shed. You will occasionally hear Taiyler desiring to have at least five cats, as she is dangerously obsessed with them. Because of this obsession, it is with 100% certainty that she will become the neighborhood's crazy cat lady.
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