Return of Theaters! How our Once Beloved Pass-Time has Come Back From the Epidemic


Since their creation, theaters have become an integral and important part of our lives, especially in America. From the first silent theaters to talkies and nickelodeons, going to the movies has always been a famous pastime of American society. But what happened to our beloved theaters during the recent COVID-19 epidemic?

During the years of 2019 to 2020, box office profits dropped drastically from its highest peak of nearly 12 billion all the way down to below 2 billion with sales in “tickets” going from 1 billion to 221 million. So what did films as a whole use to gain money and promote their films? Well streaming services such as Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Peacock, and HBO Max became pioneers of a new type of theatrical release: the home streaming theater release. 

For extra charge, you could pay to see newly released movies at home or wait 3 months for them to become free access. This allowed companies and the streaming services to be able to gain profits from memberships, subscriptions, and digital “ticket” purchases. This practice, although not as profitable as in house attendance, has made movies more accessible and allowed somewhat steady income.

Since the pandemic however, theaters have begun re-opening across the country and the world. Towards the end of 2021, box office numbers began to rise again, hitting approximately 7.5 billion USD with about 840 million tickets sold. Although the new option of home streaming has become more popular, evidence shows that people are eager to return, and even if the numbers are not as high, the inflation of ticket prices has helped fill the income gap created by the new invention of home streaming. 

Many other factors have helped increase attendance to theaters in the post-pandemic world. One example is internet meme culture. In the case of the film “Minions: Rise of Gru”, young males around the world joined in on an internet meme called “Gentleminion” where they attended showings of “Rise of Gru” in suits and ties, bringing bananas, and promoting the adventure on TikTok and other social media platforms. The trend blew up and actually helped “Minions: Rise of Gru” break some of the year’s records in performance. According to, after the release of “Minions: Rise of Gru”, all three major theater chains saw an increase of attendance from the negatives, to above the baseline 0, reaching numbers such as 30.4% of AMC Theaters, 34.5% for Regal Theaters, and 57.7% for Cinemark. 

The same is predicted to happen with the new meme culture of the post-pandemic world due to “Literally me” and “Sigma” memes. Movies such as Barbie, starring Ryan Gosling as Ken, are said to have the same effect. This is due to Ryan Gosling’s films being a major part of the “Literally Me” and “Sigma” culture. John Wick 4 is also predicted to do the same for similar reasons relating to Keanu Reeves and the internet’s well documented adoration for the film star.

Overall, 2022 has shown that theaters are coming back to our mainstream lives in many ways. New releases like the highly anticipated “Bones and All” starring Timothee Chalamet and having a score created by 6 time award winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, professionally known as Nine Inch Nails, were released only in theaters on Thanksgiving day.  Numbers have increased and so have people’s desire to see movies the traditional way: in theaters. Thanks to internet culture, good promotion, and the desire for a return to normalcy, theaters have made a comeback into the lives of all and will continue to do so.