Opinion: Cinemas lack diverse movie showings

Mack Gowan, Staff Writer

During a quarterly earnings call on Nov. 8, AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron said movie theaters have one big problem right now. The problem isn’t COVID-19 or streaming services, the problem is that “above all else…movie theater operators need more movies,” Aron said.

The problem with this statement is that it’s untrue. The problem isn’t a lack of movies, it’s a lack of showtimes for different movies, and an over reliance on big blockbusters (specifically superhero movies). I saw seven movies there in October, five of which came out that month. Even then, there were many movies I was unable to see because they weren’t playing anywhere near me.

I attempted to see both “Aftersun” and “Decision to Leave” in October. The latter of the two was only playing at a single theater 20 miles from me and “Aftersun” wasn’t playing anywhere within 25 miles of me.

You know what movie I could see though? “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” In fact, on opening night, Nov. 10, I could choose between 26 showtimes in six different formats. The longest gap between showtimes was an hour, and the shortest was two showtimes at 10:15 p.m. That morning when I looked, both 10:15 p.m. showtimes were nearly empty.

I’m not denying that these big blockbusters make a ton of money for AMC, but I feel it’s dishonest to blame theaters problems on a lack of movies when I’m unable to support the theater and see the movies I want to because the latest Marvel movies need to take over every auditorium.

Another point Aron made was that release windows are not a problem for theaters, which is also not true. According to Insider, the pandemic cut the typical theatrical release window from 75 to 90 days down to just 45 days. Many movies don’t even make it through that 45 day window.

“Tár,” one of my favorite movies of the year, showed for only around two weeks. I wanted to rewatch it but it’s playing nowhere near me after such a short release window. I would bet that most people don’t go see movies very often, and the average person definitely doesn’t rush to go see every movie the weekend they release, so these frankly tiny release windows hurt the chances of most people going to see any non-blockbuster movies.

In the end, it just hurts that I can still go see a terrible movie like “Black Adam,” or another generic assembly line Marvel movie multiple times a day when the movies I really want to see are completely inaccessible. All the while, the CEO of AMC doesn’t seem to be trying to fix this problem. To get people like me into theaters more often, more movies that are releasing need to be given more showtimes along with expanded release windows.