I can’t speak for everyone, but I am at a crossroads. On the one hand, it has been six months since I have been to the movies. Six months and one week. One hundred ninety-two days, but who’s counting?
Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Tenet, a film that I have been greatly anticipating, is being released in theatres this coming weekend. With every other major blockbuster delayed into this fall or next year, it is one of the first times in that one hundred and ninety-two days that a film almost certainly best experienced in a cinema on a giant screen is actually being released to cinemas.
I love the movie-going experience. Sure, people can be jerks sometimes (*cough* turn your phone off *cough*), a man was even arrested for assaulting another moviegoer at my screening of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (seriously, that happened). But there’s nothing quite like seeing an exciting blockbuster film with a large crowd when that crowd is into it. It’s electrifying, and I miss it.
On the other hand, there is a worldwide pandemic happening right now. Two hundred thousand people a day are catching COVID-19 worldwide, and anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 people are dying from it.
So I take it back; I am not actually at a crossroads. I won’t see Tenet in a cinema, and I don’t think you should either. I live in Vancouver, Canada, which is handling the pandemic relatively well, too. We currently have fewer than 1000 active cases and only about 20 people in the ICU as a direct result of the disease, so things are relatively safe. That’s no reason to start taking risks, though, and public gatherings –especially in closed rooms like cinemas– are a great way to spread the damned thing.
I know that theatre companies are hurting right now. However, I believe they will survive. There are places in the world that are doing much better than Canada. There are also places doing much, much worse, and I don’t think it’s worse risking being the asshole that spreads the thing to a bunch of other people.
Movies are great. They’ve been a source of comfort to me in hard times, and they’re something I share with friends and family and you, both of my readers. No movie is worth dying for, though, and no movie is worth risking the health of anyone else over.
We live in a golden age of content; there are many things to watch at home. Hell, I am in the middle of covering Montreal’s Fantasia Festival right now, which is available 100% online. The upcoming Vancouver International Film Festival will also be available to viewers across this province online. Films are coming straight to streaming and on-demand services. So my stance is that we all take advantage of that.
There will be a time for us to return to theatres. It probably won’t come at the same time for all of us. There’s every chance that it won’t come for our friends in the United States anytime soon. For most of us, though, that time is not now.
In the meantime, remember to exercise social distancing, wear a mask, and wash your hands often.
Let’s not fuck this up.