The Future of Theater

An image of a ticket booth at a Regal movie theater.

Mike Kalasnik, Flickr

Will we ever see these red letters again with Regal going bankrupt?

Danielle Broege, Staff Reporter

The owner of Regal Cinemas recently went bankrupt, which could be bad news for the film industry. Movie theaters truly struggled to make any income during the pandemic and took a huge hit to profits. 

“You have a double whammy of the pandemic and the trend towards streaming that has definitely hurt theaters,” Patrick Gonder, instructor in English and humanities said. Gonder works with Chris Cooling in screening free films for students and is an avid enjoyer of film studies.

According to, the movie industry is said to be down 40%, and it’s suspected to get worse. However, the film industry has gone through this before, leading many to believe it won’t ever stop existing but simply adapt and overcome.

“If you look back at the history of film in America, Thomas Edison thought it was gonna be in what he called kinetoscope. Parlors where you came in and you just look through a viewer separately, each person had a separate viewer. He didn’t think about narrative, he didn’t think about stars. What quickly replaced it was where people sat together and watched movies. And I think most people recognized that there is something about movie-going that is essentially social, even if you know no one else in the movie theater; when we all laugh together or scream together, it’s made so much more powerful.” Gonder said. 

With services like Netflix, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime now doing their own independent films and shows, while also exclusively airing them on their own platforms, this leaves a gap in movie theaters’ independent film showings.

Patrick Gonder smiling at the camera.
Patrick Gonder, CLC professor and film enthusiast.

“I’m a fan of big blockbuster movies. Some of them, not all of them, but there are blockbuster movies that I love. However, it may be the case that big budget blockbuster movies are the ones that get showed in theaters, and the smaller independent movies become the realm of television and streaming,” Gonder said. 

Since independent movies are becoming less common in the movie theaters, many fear the experience won’t be the same. With big companies already consuming others, like Disney buying the Star Wars franchise, we are already seeing certain companies outweighing others in the box office.

“I’m worried that the movie theater may become strictly the province of the Marvel superhero movie, or the Disney film, and that’s not a good thing,” Gonder stated.

The hope is with new movies coming into the theaters, and a global pandemic finally being put behind us, that the movie theaters can start to come back from the plummet in profits. New films like Avatar 2 and Black Panther: Wakanda Forver set to hit theaters this year should help bring people back to the theaters and money back to the industry.