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Zeitchik binary

Steven Zeitchik: “It’s worth remembering — because many people seem to have forgotten — that before the pandemic U.S. movie theaters had their best two-year period ever, with a collective $23 billion in revenue. This isn’t some dying model that digital needs to come in and save. Those sales, incidentally, likely include the many people who swear they will never go to a movie theater again. When the new Marvel or Jordan Peele or Mission: Impossible or Parasite comes only to theaters, I suspect they’ll be lining up like they always have. What’s troubling is the false binary: streaming vs theaters. You can like both! Netflix is good and theaters are good! Institutions don’t have to die just because something new is cool. And historically it takes more than one company in a strategically tough spot to kill a model. Of course ownership can change and experiences can change. We watched silent films and newsreels and serials in movie houses, and then we saw gritty crime films and pop films and dramatic films, and then 3-D films and franchise films. And there weren’t showtimes and then there were showtimes, and seats weren’t reserved and then they were reserved; we went from movie palaces to multiplexes to downtown dine-in rooms with reclining seats. And studios owned theaters and then families owned theaters and then entrepreneurs did and then big corporate chains and soon studios might own theaters again, and package movies as experiences or events or something new we haven’t yet thought of. Of course it’s theoretically possible an entire American institution just goes away. But given how durable it’s been over the decades, I wouldn’t bet on it. And certainly not because one company, for its own internal reasons, at one moment, needs to put its movies somewhere else.”

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