The Drexel Movie Theater in Bexley, Ohio is one of my favorite places on Earth. It’s not a particularly nice movie theater, with its stained red velvet seats, and evidence of rodents picking up the leftover popcorn. The college students who work there aren’t the nicest either, and I wouldn’t be if I had to meet the commands of the butter-crazed and sugary-drink needing midwesterners. Yet, the nostalgia associated with the numerous birthday parties, school field trips, and premieres that happened there make it a very special place for me and my friends.
There have been three times I can remember that this theater almost shut down, and I think my two friends and I have single-handedly kept it open. Not many enjoy going out to the movies anymore when they can watch anything from anywhere in the comfort of their home. People have started hosting themed watch parties for shows like Euphoria, and international movies and television have opened up a whole new world for view
ers. Streaming is widely accessible to anyone with a laptop, whereas not everyone has access to public transportation or a car to go to a movie theater. It has also opened the world to better quality, faster loading, and inexpensive videos. While streaming has its flares and perks it’s not all amazing.
Streaming, in the beginning, was pretty accessible. Netflix, one of the first streaming services, cost only $7.99 a month when it first began. This would be the cost of one movie ticket, yet with many more options. As demand increased, the cost for Netflix began to grow. My family’s subscription just increased to $19.99 a month. So, other streaming services became available with different options. Hulu, Disney+, Peacock, HBO Max, and Amazon Video have all come out offering a variety of very appealing shows. Those who didn’t want to miss out on Euphoria had to pay for an HBO Max subscription or use a friend’s account. This has made streaming much less accessible to those who not only don’t want to pay $50+ a month for streaming services but also those who don’t have access to reliable wifi.
Screen time is also a concern for many parents. Binge-watching can have adverse mental health risks, according to Syed Raza. It can increase symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and loneliness all due to staring at a screen for hours on end instead of being in the fresh air and sunlight. It can also distract students and those working from home from doing their work. Streaming can be on all day in the background, and it can slow down the time one might be productive.
The environment, however, is a topic within streaming that might be controversial. Streaming makes it so people don’t have to drive to the movie theater. Also, the energy it takes to run a theater is significantly more than the energy one already uses in their home daily. Though streaming means more demand, more demand means a need for more production, and more production takes significantly more energy. With an increased demand for more shows and movies to stream; however, this has the opportunity to change.
My friends and I will never stop going to the movies, as long as they stay in business. This doesn’t mean that we don’t also heavily rely on streaming. We are privileged enough to be able to stream whenever we want, and then treat the movie theater as a fun escape from reality. Eventually, the cost of going to the theater and buying the overly expensive snacks won’t be worth it, and the movies that generally premier in theaters will be available first on streaming sites. As streaming continues to grow and the pros begin to outweigh the cons, it’s only a matter of time before the theater will be a mere memory of my youth.
“Berkeley Lab Study Highlights Growing Energy Impact of Internet Video Streaming.” News Center, June 3, 2014. https://newscenter.lbl.gov/2014/06/02/berkeley-lab-study-highlights-growing-energy-impact-of-internet-video-streaming/.