The grandkids came last night for pizza, corn on the cob, mushrooms, and shishito peppers out of our wood-fired oven.
It was great fun and a good meal—though the evening didn’t start out smoothly. First, my granddaughter, Lucy was horrified to discover a nest of yellow jackets that had taken up residency in the tubular frame of our outdoor dining table. Paul to the rescue! I duct-taped shut the small holes they entered through but not before one of their angry guardians stung me three times—sending me fleeing for the safety of the screen door guarding Terri and the kids. I later forgot the peppers roasting in the 700-degree oven and they turned to charcoal. Then, one of the pizzas destined for the fire “kind of just fell off ” the peel and onto the deck. This faux pa was followed by some crying, then a spilled water glass across the fresh-baked pies, but soggy pizza and all, a fun family dinner.
The real motivation for visiting with us was the evening’s entertainment: Disney’s new movie, Mulan (a sort of female version of Luke Skywalker). Already a paying Disney Plus subscriber it was a bit of a shock to fork over an additional $28 for the privilege of being among the first to watch it—as we would in theaters—but theaters aren’t open because of the pandemic.
And then it hit me. The death of the movie theater.
Theaters were struggling before the pandemic, dying during the pandemic, and once it’s over and life “returns to normal”, my guess is that the major studios, like Disney, will have found it far more profitable to just charge home-viewers theater rates for all new releases. Once that happens the only remaining advantage of movie theaters is forever gone.
We knew things would never get back to normal. It had just never occurred to me theaters might be among the permanent casualties.
At least most of us can share with future generations how we once gathered together in auditoriums to bother each other with noisy popcorn-munching, cellphone usage, and getting unsettled as guests who couldn’t hold their water visited the loo.
We’ll also be able to whimsically reminisce about missing the shared laughter, gasps, and applause of community.