Typically, TIFF involves dashing across downtown Toronto to join a line to get into a screening, and attending one movie means missing two others. Watching films on my own time from the comfort of my own home, both during the virtual TIFF and throughout the last six months, has been a seismic leap forward in terms of ease and convenience of viewing.
And now, suddenly the entire ritual of moviegoing — driving to a theater, overpaying for popcorn and pop, sitting through 20 minutes of ads and trailers, having the movie start when they tell you it’s going to start, not being able to get up and go to the bathroom without missing things and having someone in the row ahead of you fidgeting with their phone intermittently throughout the film — seems as outdated as being tied to a landline telephone.
What you trade for those annoyances is the theater experience, the communal thrill of watching something together in a darkened theater with premium projection and sound that can melt your eardrums. You can’t replicate the feeling of watching a great comedy in a theater full of laughter or seeing a thriller where the tension and fear hangs in the air like a fog. When it’s great, the theater experience is indispensable. But is it great enough, often enough, to survive?
The short answer is… probably? Theaters will survive in some form, but they won’t look like they currently do. Blockbusters will be pushed forward, likely for premium pricing, while smaller films will be squeezed out and pushed to VOD models. And the days of boffo box office may never return.
The current Wonder Woman run has revealed a psychic wave is running through America, causing people to hallucinate and act violently towards each other. As the country burns, Diana of Themyscira discovers it’s due to a photo app, and she’s sought out Max Lord’s help to shut it down.