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We're Living in Unprecedented Times

Posted on Thursday, March 19, 2020 4:22 PM

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To put it plainly, the last several days have been daunting and exhausting. What started in December as reports came in about a virus outbreak in China has grown to a worldwide pandemic that has caused life to change drastically for millions of people. I'm not sure that there are many people that haven't been impacted in some way, some profoundly, and others less so.

One of those impacts (however minor in the grand scheme of things) is the closure of movie theaters and the resulting postponement of movie releases. In the course of one week, we have gone from hearing that movies were being rescheduled as a result of global concerns about the impact of the virus outbreak, to theaters being ordered to close until things improve.

To illustrate that impact, just under 6,000 movie theaters in the United States are active and showing movies on regular or irregular basis. We typically see about 4,600 theaters that have showtimes on a Friday and Saturday. Tomorrow (Friday), there are less than 600. We expect that number to continue shrinking as the days go on.

Movie theaters closed. Bars. Restaurants. Department Stores. Sporting Events. Schools. All closed. Never in my 50+ years have I lived through such a time. My grandparents told tales of much worse, so there's that. Most of us have our health, and in order to keep everyone as healthy as possible, we're now spending much more time at home with our family members than we probably have in a long time. "Shelter in place" and "social distancing" are now the terms of the day.

We are very fortunate to live in a time when home entertainment options are plenty. Movie enthusiasts can now enjoy their disc collections, and many services provide streaming options, although I think we're about to discover over the next few weeks how robust those streaming services are and how varied some of their collections aren't...

How Theaters are Responding

As I mentioned, many/most theaters are closed or are in the process of doing so until this outbreak diminishes to the point where the CDC and governments lift their advisories against movement and crowd situations.

Some theaters are offering carry-out and delivery options for popcorn and other concession items, as a way to continue to serve the public and to provide some much-needed revenue when they have lost the ability to do so in traditional ways. Others are offering gift card promotions so that customers can support the theaters during this time, and get a discount when they are able to go back to watching movies on the big screen again.

Some theaters have chosen to take this opportunity that the closure provides to do some upgrades and changes that would have been more complicated to do while trying to serve customers at the same time.

How We are Responding -- Our Next Steps

For 25 years, we have placed an emphasis on providing information about the movies playing in theaters and when they are playing. You may have noticed that we also provide information about home video releases and we have done some reviews of those releases. That was never an area that we could really dive into while also focusing primarily on movie releases in theaters.

Now that the number of movies showing in theaters is greatly reduced, this provides us with an opportunity to enhance the home video side of things.

As such, you'll begin to see some changes on our site that reflect the steps we're taking in that regard. We also have some planned improvements for the entire site that these events have likely made more possible.

Watch for more announcements as they are ready for release!

What You Can Do

Some day, this too shall pass. Movie theaters will reopen, and there will be a demand for getting out of the house and socializing that may be greater than after even the longest of winters. The movies that have been postponed will become available, and theaters may have an embarrassment of riches as they try to figure out how to show them all to everyone that wants to see them.

In order for that to happen, though, they will need support from the moviegoing audience. They will need to have confidence that they can make investments in their theaters because their customers will be waiting. If your favorite theater offers gift card promotions, this may be a good time to take them up on their offers. This is especially true for small independent theaters. That will provide them with revenue that they may need to get through this challenging time.

We plan on being there, too. When the showtimes come back, we'll provide them just as we've always done (and probably a little bit better). In the meantime, we'll be providing great information about the movies that you can watch at home, including trailers, videos, photos, reviews, and more.

I will admit that we're taking a big hit right now. Our advertising revenue is down considerably, even though our traffic has not dropped that much. That means that it's going to be tough, but we're planning on getting through it.

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VIP Service is a subscription plan that offers a variety of features in addition to ad blocking on this site for just $9.95 per year. Using a web site without advertising getting in the way is an amazing experience, and we'd love to offer the site to everyone without the ads, but the bills have to get paid somehow. Our VIP Service provides you with the choice of how you want to support us..

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For less than a dollar per month, you will be providing us with much-needed revenue to continue offering great features on this site and developing even more.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all that are impacted by this global pandemic. We are indeed living in unprecedented times, and some day, we will be able to tell stories about what happened, and what we did during this time. Let's all work together to make sure that those are good stories. Keep healthy. Follow the guidelines from the CDC and other organizations and don't do anything to jeopardize the health and safety of others.

Watch some movies and play some games and read some books. We'll be here to help you with the first item on that list!

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