With the news, Warner Brothers will be releasing all its films on HBO max on the same day as they enter the cinema my heart sank. It served as a stark reminder of how the film industry has changed over the course of this year and the subsequent impact the pandemic has had on cinemas.
As a Cineworld unlimited cardholder, I have spent entire days in the darkroom phone left in my coat pocket with nothing but a slush and pick and mix for company but my love affair with cinemas started well before that. As a kid, I lived in my head. I escaped in worlds created by wonderful storytellers.
Growing up trips to the pictures was a family affair and by that, I don’t just mean my parents and sister. It included my aunts, uncles, grandmother, and cousins. We literally would take up the entire back row of the room armed with delicious treats. To this day, I refuse to watch a Star Wars or Marvel film in the cinema without at least one member of my noisy clan.
It was during these moments where I didn’t just fall in love with the movie but the entire experience of visiting the multiplex. The exasperation of working out lifts, the queuing in line to grab my popcorn of choice. (I am a half and half girl in case you’re wondering) My favourite part though were the discussions that took place in the car afterwards. Still buzzed from what we had just witnessed, the car ride home would be discussing our favourite parts of the film.
Growing up, trips to the cinema were also a solo affair. I was in primary school when I first went to the cinema on my own. We would visit The Trafford Centre and my parents would take me to the cinema and park me in the dark while they went for a quick browse around the shops. Which was fine by me. I was happy and content there. This led to me growing fond of visiting the cinema on my own and something I carried on beyond these trips to the cinema.
More recently, I started this year with a family death which left me feeling shook and numb. Quite honestly, I wanted to escape the mundanity of the real world, and while during the week I had to get on with life. Every weekend, I would hop on a bus or tube to the cinema and spend the entire day in the darkroom. Here I was safe. Here I could get lost in a fantasy world, cry at a death scene even though I knew my tears were more than just tears for the characters. I could be with people without having to actually be around people. At the age of 29, my childhood safe space had reignited.
To see the likes of Cineworld and Vue struggling this year has been hard to take. To know these places may never resurface in the same way again has left me utterly devastated and I know I am not the only one. Across social people I know have commented on what cinemas mean to them, from spending time with loved ones to the food, it is safe to say the cinematic experience is one I and many others cannot wait to see them return in the year.