The Royal Theatre has undergone a huge renovation during the pandemic. The Trail moviehouse was again forced to shut down by provincial health orders issued in December. Photo: Jim Bailey

The Royal Theatre has undergone a huge renovation during the pandemic. The Trail moviehouse was again forced to shut down by provincial health orders issued in December. Photo: Jim Bailey

Buy popcorn, take your seat as the lights dim, and save the cinematic experienc

2021 is where the real chaos awaits for the fledgling film industry

There are way too many streaming platforms!

That’s my takeaway from 2020.

Even after a year that will be remembered as the time we all saved the world by lying on the couch and watching TV, my head aches like it’s been told to do algebra for weeks on end.

Can anyone keep Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube, HBO Max, Crave, Peacock, BritBox, Crunchyroll, and about fifty other streaming services you’ve never even heard of straight?

How did we even get to this point?

It does seem that terribly long ago that w used to see a movie on the big screen, and if you missed it, you’d rent a copy at Blockbuster.

Now I can’t go to the theatre, I can’t rent anything, and if I want to see something, I have to hunt down the picture and subscribe – hoping I can trick the service into giving me yet another free trial.

Illegal downloaders can stop reading by the way…

It’s getting so confusing too! I know people who have to set alarms to alert them which free trial is coming to its end.

I mean, you’d have to win the lottery to actually subscribe to them all.

Is it really too much to ask for everything to be available for rent in one convenient place so I can pay for what I want to see and move on?

Back in 1948, the Hollywood Antitrust Case ultimately ended the studio system when the Supreme Court decided movie studios could not own their own theatres or decide what to play and where.

Studios were forced to divest themselves in order for their booming monopolies to be broken up.

I think we’ve entered into similar territory and something needs to be done to regulate these streaming services, which are quickly taking the place of theatres.

Sigh. Just writing that sentence makes me tearyeyed.

As a movie nerd heading into 2021, I’m panicked.

I went to three movies at the theatre in all of 2020 – and two of them were before the pandemic. That’s a dizzying record low for me!

And it’s not like there wasn’t content to go see on the big screen either.

Many films were released last year; there was no shortage as so many outlets reported.

Sure, there’s a handful of flicks that got delayed, but the real delay lies in the productions that were shooting in 2020 and aiming for a 2021 release.

No matter the limited slate, I’m still willing to get dressed up, drive half an hour, pay 20 bucks, and see them.

I don’t want to see big budget remake, sequel, Marvel nonsense either… though that’s a whole other column and a half.

It’s clear that we are going to see theatre’s struggle. So many have shuttered for good already, but without the ability for us to go attend and them to screen entertainment, those closures are only going to pick up speed.

The Cineplex in Walnut Grove was often lined up out the door whenever I went, and that theatre is massive! So I know there’s still an appetite for a night out at the movies.

But we can’t be lazy about this when doors do finally open; otherwise we’ll soon have to drive all the way to downtown Vancouver for a show, or, dare I say, have no place to go at all.

This is a call.

A resolution for 2021.

Don’t sign up to streaming platforms!

Please go to the movies when it’s safe to do so.

Please buy some popcorn, take your seat as the lights go dim, and save the cinematic experience.

Ryan Uytdewilligen is a reporter for the Aldergrove Star.

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