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Movies and (no) chill?

Theaters are open — here’s why you shouldn’t go

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covid movie

Two weeks ago, my friend and I decided to risk our lives to go see Christopher Nolan’s new, time-focused epic “Tenet.”

The movie is by no means the next “Interstellar” or “Inception,” but it truly is a spectacle from beginning to end, with a fascinating plot, and the right amount of Robert Pattinson — something I had been desperately missing. 

But, as I left the theater with the other seven or so equally-as-disappointed masked patrons, only one thought brushed through my anxiety-filled head: “I could’ve waited.”

With COVID cases on the rise, any enclosed space, let alone a cramped movie theater, should not be at the top of your “must go” list. If we continue on our current course, we will not only lose individuals close to us, but also the local businesses and theaters that we hold near and dear to our hearts.

However, Jeff Brein, co-owner of Far Away Entertainment — a company which owns eight theaters in the Seattle area, including the Varsity on the Ave — assured me that all safety precautions are being met in his theaters in the case that patrons want to support locals.

“We are doing everything that we possibly can that the scientists have told us to do to give you a safe and enjoyable environment,” Brein said. “[We] know how serious this is, and we respect certain people for saying, ‘I’m just not going to do it.’”

Brein noted that while Far Away doesn’t need to worry about rent prices and landlords immediately, it only truly has enough funds to last through the middle of 2021.

But while theaters like Brein’s are taking precautions, it really comes down to individuals and businesses. This hits on a question that has plagued society forever: Do businesses actually care about us, or do they just want our money?

Theaters are reopening in the thousands, with many only doing so to avoid complete financial meltdown. Just last month, Bloomberg reported that AMC might declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to lower potential debt costs. This follows news from the Wall Street Journal that Regal Cinemas, due to the holiday movie slate being delayed and a premature opening, is once again suspending all domestic operations

In most cases, the move to reopen is not a move to assist independent or local cinema. Instead, it is a clear business tactic to lengthen the life of corporations that have held their grasp on the industry for generations.

So, if I had to give you one major piece of advice, it would be this: be patient.

Many movies are switching over to the video-on-demand service model. With a plethora of streaming services at the click of a button, you shouldn’t be in a huge rush to go out and take in a movie in person. While that may have been scorned by theater owners like Brein pre-pandemic, it is certainly the best choice for the time being.  

Trust me, as a student in cinema and media studies and a diehard cinema fanboy, I cannot wait for movies to come back.  

“The Batman” with Robert Pattinson looks incredible. Wes Anderson’s new flick, “The French Dispatch,” has a phenomenal cast with the potential of becoming a new classic. Hell, even my most anticipated films of the year, “Promising Young Woman” and “Judas and the Black Messiah,” would be amazing to see with packed crowds and handfuls of popcorn.

But we need to understand the consequences of our impatience. Another COVID outbreak, due to the greed of companies, will not only delay returning to normal — it will also delay our films further and further into the future, putting the lives of our local theaters on the line.

Risking your life and the lives of everyone around you to experience mediocrity is a waste. When was the last time a company like AMC asked you how you were or brought you Taco Bell the day after you failed your midterm? Unless they sent you a strangely comforting promotional email, I would assume never. 

So stay home, curl up on the couch or in bed, watch Netflix, and ride this one out. Your friendships, family members, and relationships matter more than corporate greed and copy-and-paste action films like “Tenet.”

And when this is all over or when you feel ready, go support your local cinema and independent films. As Brein put it: “When you’re ready, we are ready for you.”

Reach contributing writer Jacob Renn at Twitter: @hobopanda123

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