Will the Release of Mulan on Disney+ and Other Streaming Services Cause Movie Theaters to Become Obsolete?

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Ava Garibay, Op-Ed Page Editor

The release of Disney’s live action remake of Mulan on Disney+ has many fans wondering what precedent this sets for film in the COVID-19 era. Most Ignatians are familiar with going to the movie theater with friends or family, but COVID restrictions have made this activity much more complicated, and the prolonged vacancy of these institutions has or may cause many cinemas to go bankrupt in the future. Most of the open movie theaters have strict COVID-19 restrictions and an overall small turnout of movie goers. Some films, such as Dune and Wonder Woman (1984), have pushed their release dates back, while others like Mulan and the upcoming The Witches have chosen to skip theaters altogether and release films through streaming services. The delayed releases of highly anticipated movies and TV shows has sparked both disappointment and understanding from many high schoolers. Charise Pisani 21’ says, “although the streaming of new movies online is not my preference, it is necessary for the times we live in” and that “watching premieres at home is better than nothing at all.”

Watching from home has become the new normal due to the rise in popularity of streaming services during COVID lockdowns and even before the pandemic, the average American went to theaters 55% less often than someone in the 1930s. The popularity of these services paired with a dramatic decrease in movie theater attendance casts the future of these businesses in doubt. Will the familiar pastime of going to the cinema become obsolete?

There is a reason why movie theaters have been around for so long. Many people, including Ignatius students, have expressed their opinions on whether or not they plan on returning to the cinema. When asked, Brooke Ghaly ‘23 said, “even though there are streaming services, people will still go to movie theaters once they are able to because going to a movie theater is part of the experience of seeing a movie.” Most people can agree with Brooke that even though streaming services are rapidly gaining popularity, nothing can replace the appeal of going to the movies. Whether or not movie theaters lose their appeal and, more importantly, funding, students can rest assured that they will be able to watch new films and TV shows, whether it be on their own living room couch or in a traditional theater.