This past weekend, I went to see “Candyman” in theaters. I had seen “Shang-Chi” a couple weeks ago and for some reason I was in love with the theater I had gone to.
It was all but abandoned yet still in a nice area of town, the Aksarben district; it made me feel like I was in an abandoned Pizza Planet from “Toy Story” and gave me the strangest sense of nostalgia. I couldn’t wait to go back and see anything in one of the mere ten theaters they had, so I saw Candyman for a second time with my friends.
It was all but abandoned again and it felt like I was walking into the backrooms, a creepy anthology one can find in the depths of YouTube late at night. There were maybe five workers and I guess that’s all they needed because, to be honest, nobody goes to see movies anymore, which upsets me.
We live in a digital age where people are complacent waiting for Shang-Chi to come out on their Disney Plus subscriptions and can wait for Candyman to come to streaming service near them.
There isn’t a need for a place to enjoy movies when you can do so from the comfort of your bed. It made me realize just how disconnected the pandemic made us. Before the pandemic, everyone knew movie theaters were on the outs but I really don’t see them bouncing back after this past year.
I have always enjoyed going to the movies because there is something about the big screen that makes the experience of the movie better. Seeing movies like “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in the surround sound IMAX theater as a kid and the newest “Star Wars” movies are some of my most cherished memories I have with my dad.
There really is no other feeling like getting a cherry Icee and licorice before settling in to experience a movie and not just watch it. I miss seeing a movie in the middle of the day and walking out of the dark theater to the blinding sunlight or going into the theater when it’s still daytime and leaving at night.
The theaters were invented in the early 20th century, 1905 to be exact, and have been a staple of American culture for over 100 years now, so I suppose this is the natural progression of entertainment.
However, I can’t help but feel that the switch from theaters to handheld devices and smaller screens like laptops is pushing people further away from one another. The movies are a place of community in the suburbs I grew up in around Des Moines, Iowa, and going to see a movie with my friends in middle school was considered top-tier entertainment.
Maybe I miss finally being old enough to see a PG-13 movie with my friends and not having to have a parent with me or maybe I just miss my childhood. Either way, I’m curious to see how we, as humans, will continue to tell stories.
Last year, in my Intro to Philosophy class we learned about ancient cave paintings and how, when light was passed over them, it appeared as though the bison, different animals and people were moving along the cave walls; some of the earliest forms of theater. To think that the tradition of picture has spanned for over centuries, all the way into the 21st century, is a remarkable feat and a testament to the perseverance of humankind’s commitment to the art of storytelling.
While I hope movie theaters stick around for a little while longer so that I can experience my Pizza Planet, Matrix simulation nostalgia for many times to come, I fear that movie theaters are on their way out of business.
In the meantime, I’ll be seeing movies far more often to remember what it means to communicate a message through the art of storytelling.