We are all thinking about the future. How long will this go on? Will life go back to “normal”—or will there be a new normal?
Predictably, we are seeing a deluge of opinion pieces signaling the demise of the theatrical experience. All this home viewing, Netflix-watching and straight-to-streaming distribution is surely the end of movie theaters. Never mind the fact that we’ve been seeing that same story for decades, even though theater attendance has remained relatively stable since 1964 (the only significant dip in theater attendance was the introduction of the television from 1949-1964). But since 1964 we’ve seen the introduction of cable TV, VCRs and DVD players, the digital conversion from 35 mm, the advent of streaming services and shorter theatrical windows—oh, and Moviepass. (Remember that?!). Each change in technology has been the harbinger of doom, yet the curtain rises on the other side.
I am convinced that there is one reason theaters survive, and more than that, thrive (we had three full-capacity events in our largest theater in the month before the pandemic). That reason is you. Our tremendous community. Our beloved regulars. How we miss you!
I was moved to tears by this love letter to the movies by Manohla Dargis and I wanted to share it. It reminded me how deeply I feel tied to the physical space of the Athena. And how much I treasure the ability to watch movies with you here.
We are being forced to quickly adapt or else face an uncertain future. Should we encourage patrons to stream art house content, even try to move to a new model where we get a cut of the “ticket” you buy to stream a film? Do we “go dark” and wait it out?
I am sifting through a lot of new and daily emerging possibilities and like all of us, trying to make the best decisions for our little corner of the world. I am not sure what the answers are but I do know that our team here is scrappy, tenacious and wildly committed. We are specialists at adapting to change and we remain focused. The Athena will be here on the other side of this thing.
I hope to see you at the movies.
Stay tuned and stay healthy,
Director, Athena Cinema