The End Of An Era? Part 2

Melvin Twigg Mason

The United States is considered the world’s 2nd biggest movie-going market, based on box office sales. But even as Ohio cinemas begin to reopen to the public, will the previous shelter-in-place practices permanently change the way we watch films and seek entertainment?

In 2019, 11% of the U.S./Canadian population accounted for 47% of all domestic movie tickets sold. The rest of America is considered occasional or infrequent moviegoers. As stated in Part 1 of my report, there’s a “new normal” coming to town. Actually, it already began years ago (roughly 2007) with the onset of video-on-demand apps like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and more recently Vudu.

Due to the global pandemic, the norm is further expanding and adapting to consumer demand. So who’s to say that the new movie releases that have “temporarily” been shifted to these streaming services won’t continue to be released that way after the coronavirus?

I must admit, when I first got a streaming device, it was an extreme paradigm shift for me. No longer did I turn on the TV and surf the channels for something that seemed good to watch in-the-moment, or anticipate my favorite show(s) at a certain time of day. Now my approach to broadcast entertainment had to be different. Now, I have to KNOW what I am interested in seeing (at any time of the day or night) and then search for it through the archives of various apps on the device. I’ll probably have to pay (extra!) for it as well. And the entertainment industry is more than happy to provide this individualized content…for a fee.

[Note: Production and advertising costs for content-makers will remain relatively the same, but they’ll be able to line their pockets with the extra savings in distribution.]

There’s also been a resurgence of drive-ins in America. Drive-in theaters burst onto the local scene as early as 1950, and by 1974, northeast Ohio boasted 16 locations, including:

*Canal Rd. Drive-In (defunct by 1976)

*The Cloverleaf Drive-In (closed 1984)

*Miles Rd. Drive-In (closed 2000)

*Memphis Rd. Drive-In (closed 2006)

Aside from the shift in how we get our movies in recent years, land shortage has also pushed today’s drive-ins outside of county limits. However, three (3) are still in existence in our area:
*Mayfield Rd. Drive-In (east)
*The Autorama (west)
*Midway Drive-In (south)
What better way to escape the sense of lockdown with the family than by hopping into the car and cruising to see a movie in the great outdoors? It reduces the chance of being infected with COVID-19 or infecting others, and can be cheaper than a set of individual tickets at a movie house. Most Baby-Boomers haven’t been to a drive-in in decades, and Gen-Xers & Millennials, probably never!

If, for whatever reasons, none of the above is possible for your household, what else might we do for entertainment in the “new normal?”

Let’s explore that in Part 3 of this series.