Steven Spielberg explains why movie theaters need to survive
Movie theater chains are struggling amidst the ongoing pandemic and there’s a very real threat many will not make it through these troubling times. And yet, legendary director Steven Spielberg, ever the optimist, revealed in a letter to Empire why he believes movie theaters will eventually return and why they are an important part of our society.
“In the current health crisis, where movie theatres are shuttered or attendance is drastically limited because of the global pandemic, I still have hope bordering on certainty that when it’s safe, audiences will go back to the movies. I’ve always devoted myself to our movie-going community — movie-going, as in leaving our homes to go to a theatre, and community, meaning a feeling of fellowship with others who have left their homes and are seated with us. In a movie theatre, you watch movies with the significant others in your life, but also in the company of strangers. That’s the magic we experience when we go out to see a movie or a play or a concert or a comedy act. We don’t know who all these people are sitting around us, but when the experience makes us laugh or cry or cheer or contemplate, and then when the lights come up and we leave our seats, the people with whom we head out into the real world don’t feel like complete strangers anymore.
“We’ve become a community, alike in heart and spirit, or at any rate alike in having shared for a couple of hours a powerful experience,” Spielberg continued. “That brief interval in a theatre doesn’t erase the many things that divide us: race or class or belief or gender or politics. But our country and our world feel less divided, less fractured, after a congregation of strangers have laughed, cried, jumped out their seats together, all at the same time. Art asks us to be aware of the particular and the universal, both at once. And that’s why, of all the things that have the potential to unite us, none is more powerful than the communal experience of the arts.”
Movie theaters are indeed a magical place for movie lovers, provided you get the right crowd. It’s only fitting that the man who practically invented the Hollywood blockbuster with the likes of Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones would do his duty to remind audiences why we venture into darkened theaters to eat popcorn and cheer on our favorite heroes alongside strangers. Hopefully, that time comes again … sooner rather than later.
Spielberg’s next film is the remake of West Side Story, starring Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose. The film was slated to hit theaters last December but was pushed back one year to Dec. 10 after the pandemic hit.
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