Feature Article

When Will Going To Movie Theaters Feel Okay Again?

When movie theaters, theme parks, and more open after the COVID-19 pandemic, will you actually be ready to go?

It's been over a month since businesses started closing and people began sheltering in place throughout the United States--and around the world. The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has changed daily life in both complex and mundane ways. An untold number of jobs are being lost and the economy is in historically bad shape. Beyond that, movie theaters sit empty, theme parks around the world are closed, and conventions, festivals, and gatherings everywhere are being canceled.

As of this moment, there is no set date for when the world will resume. When it does, though, are you going to feel comfortable leaving your house and heading to the movies or Disneyland again to celebrate? Because I'm not.

Eventually, I--like most others--will head back to the movies, attend wrestling shows and concerts, and do all of the things I used to before. I'll do it partly because it's my job as an entertainment journalist and critic to partake in these things. More than that, though, I'll do it because this is what I love. I feel at home at the movies, and I'm never more elated than when I walk down Main Street at Disneyland.

I cannot envision myself experiencing those feelings anytime soon, though. Short of a widely available vaccine or documented proof of herd immunity against COVID-19, I'll have a difficult time feeling comfortable enough returning to crowded places. Regardless of how safe it might be, the possibility of contracting the coronavirus--or worse, giving it to someone else--it too high a toll to pay.

This is a feeling I suspect many others are having as we continue to watch the world change around us. Not everyone, mind you--there are some who are more than ready to resume their normal lives. The further we get into this pandemic, though, it's hard to imagine things going back to how they were a mere few months ago.

That's why small comforts, like certain films being shifted to digital release or WWE altering its typical product to present a unique and more cinematic Wrestlemania without a live audience, are welcome. It's entirely possible this could become the new normal, as far as entertainment goes. If not, though, chances are this is how things are going to be for months to come.

Of course, when the shelter in place orders do lift and people begin reemerging from their homes, there will be those who have no problem resuming their normal activities, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, if you're not in that group, that's perfectly OK. There is no right way to feel about the current situation. The most you can do is just try to adapt as well as you possibly can.

Ultimately, the world will unpause and things will begin to go back to some form of normalcy. How you choose to react to that is a personal choice. I, for one, don't know when I'll feel comfortable resuming my typical activities, whether it's going to a screening for work or planning a vacation to a crowded destination. The longer I think about that, though, the more at peace with it I become. I can't control anything in this environment except for my own actions. When the time comes to make a choice, I'll make the one I feel most comfortable with--and you should do the same. If that means rushing to the theaters or planning your next theme park trip, enjoy yourself. If it doesn't, though, don't force it. There's nothing wrong with the way you feel.

Besides, even if you're not going to run to the theater to see a film, there's plenty to stream from your couch. Whether you're a massive horror fan--be it cosmic, alien, monster, killer animal, or slasher horror--or just want to see the best of what the various available streaming services have to offer, you're not going to run out of content anytime soon. And when you do, it's fine because Quibi exists now too. Don't worry, the movies will still be there when you're ready.

Image credit: AFP/Stringer/Getty Images

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Chris E. Hayner

Chris E. Hayner is an entertainment editor at GameSpot. Prior to his work at GameSpot, he contributed to a number of outlets including The Hollywood Report, IGN, Mashable, CBS Interactive, Tribune Media, and Nerdist. Beyond writing about TV, movies, and theme parks, Chris co-hosts and produces GameSpot's wrestling podcast Wrestle Buddies with Mat Elfring. Chris loves all movies, but especially Jaws and Paddington 2.

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