Going to the movies? Maybe not much longer

Watched  Rampage, starring Dwayne Johnson (AKA The Rock) fighting to save the world from a rampaging, out-sized albino gorilla named George, an overgrown wolf and a tyrannical croc.

Set in one of the newer screens of Regal’s upgraded Christiansburg theater — dubbed “RPX” for enhanced sound, a lager and brighter screen — with about five other folks in the theater on this opening weekend where Warner Brothers hoped to big box office.  Early reports suggest Rampage beat out the competition, earning an estimated $35.4 million domestically and 114.1 million worldwide.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed smaller and smaller crowds locally for theater that report big earnings nationwide or around the world.

Maybe the smaller crowds here in Southwestern Virginia thin out because the movies in Christiansburg at the Regal (playing in at least three of the screens in 3D, standard and RPX at that location) are repeated not very far away in Blacksburg at the Cinebowl (in both IMAX, 3D and standard screens) along with several locations in Roanoke.

I like going to movies in a theater, watching them in the settings that suit such viewing.  I go to three or four films each month, usually at the Regal where I can relax in a comfortable recliner with a table for my soda and lose myself for a couple of hours in a hopefully good story.

However, those who keep tabs on what may or may not be happening out there in things like business prospects for movie theaters say those in the “key markets” bought fewer movie theater tickets in 2017 than in any of the past 20 years.

That key market is the 18 to 24 years old folks who shell out of entertainment and who view movies streamed on their computers, their smartphones or on televisions no longer wired to cable TV of fed by satellite dishes.

Overall, movie theater attendance is down 17 percent in the last five years.

In the near future, we are told, virtually all movies will be streamed to the computer from places like Netflix (120 million subscribers worldwide), Amazon Prime or other locations.

Disney, a key player in entertainment, is going the streaming route too, launching Disneyflix, which will also be the only spot to catch the new Star Wars films since Disney also owns Lucasfilm.

Disney owes 40 percent of its revenue to network TV since they own ESPN, ABC and the Disney Channel but traditional, wired TV service has dropped 51 percent since 2010 and they are promoting a new streaming version of ESPN.

At our house, most of what used to be called “regular TV” now arrives via steaming.  We watch CBS news and entertainment on the networks “All-Access Channel” and get HBO, Showtime and Cinemas on streaming for less than one fifth of what it cost via satellite.

The times, they keep on a changing.





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© 2021 Blue Ridge Muse