Theaters vs. Streaming: Cozy Night In or Intrepid Night out?

Photo Courtesy: [AMG/Canva]

I think I’ve aged around 20 years thanks to the pandemic — spiritually speaking — but between the long walks around the neighborhood, the Saturday nights always in and the many afternoons spent reading murder mysteries, I’m a model retiree who happens to have a full-time job. Before everything went sideways I used to go to the movies about once a week, sometimes more depending on press screenings and the calendar of releases. There were also weekly dinners out and frequent goings to theater plays, concerts and museums. But let’s not get distracted by my sad, currently nonexistent social life.

During this past year and a half, I’ve gotten used to the comfort of watching movies from home, be it for professional purposes because I need to review them or just as a perfectly good way of spending a Saturday evening. There’s something alluring about not having to commute to a crowded theater, not having to hassle with parking or with public transportation, and just sitting — or lying — on the couch at home, blanket on my knees, a soothing mug of rooibos tea in my hand and the doggie not far away. I know, I’m a picture-perfect retiree.

It’s not like I haven’t been to the movies at all during this time; I wrote about how much I enjoyed A Quiet Place II in part because it was my first movie in a theater in more than 14 months. Although, the fact that John Krasinski made his film one hour and 37 minutes long and I could be home early also contributed to my enjoyment. I don’t particularly appreciate long movies that keep me out of the house after my 9:30 p.m. bedtime.

I should add that I’m still a bit reluctant to resume indoor activities due to the ongoing pandemic. And even though I live in a part of the country that hasn’t been a hot spot for a few weeks, for the most part, I’ve preferred to limit my moviegoing to press screenings that rarely are full and where people are only unmasked while consuming popcorn. I know I’m not the only one still cautious. I overheard one of my critic colleagues saying “I just don’t want to be too close to anybody” when choosing where to sit for the viewing of The Eyes of Tammy Faye. I too was sitting as far away from everyone as possible.

Critics have been divided about this. Some of them have resumed their professional activities by attending fall movie festivals like Toronto and New York in person. Others, like myself, have preferred to “join” TIFF and NYFF’s virtual options. Although, unlike last year, most marquee titles haven’t been available for streaming even for the accredited festival press. The industry is eager to go back to normal.