Re-opening the Curtains

The film industry’s response to the new COVID-19 restrictions and how students are reacting to movie theaters opening up.

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Black Widow from the upcoming movie, “Black Widow”

Nikki Mielcarek , Staff Writer

With COVID-19 restrictions slowly lifting, movie theaters are beginning to welcome viewers back in person all over the U.S.

The industry delayed dozens of new releases over the past year, disappointing millions of viewers.

But now, fans rejoice as their favorite movies are beginning to appear on the big screen.

In 2020, to address the movie hold-ups, studios put out their own streaming platforms: Disney+, Netflix, Hulu and more.

In the absence of theaters, fans flocked to these platforms, creating opportunities for companies to reach out to viewers in a new way, including exclusive access to new films and weekly released TV shows.

For example, freshman Kendall Keshen watched the new Disney+ premier access movie “Raya the Last Dragon” and said, “I love watching in the comfort of my own home.”

But while viewers gained access to their favorite media at home, theaters suffered from the lack of business.

This led movie theaters to offer single-party viewings, allowing patrons to rent out entire theaters for as little as $100.

Marvel held back its big blockbuster “Black Widow” for almost a year. After three delays, Marvel now promises to release the film on July 9.

“I am looking forward to seeing “Black Widow” the most. I am a big fan of Marvel and Avengers movies,” sophomore Zoë Stephens said.

Other upcoming soon-to-be-released movies include “Free Guy” (May 21), starring Ryan Reynolds, and “Cruella “ (May 28), starring Emma Stone.

It looks like there will be “some intriguing upcoming movies,” Zoë said.

Still, some are reluctant to go to theaters and being in an enclosed space with fabric chairs, where COVID-19 can be easily transmitted.

But there is still hope. Theaters have guidelines in place to make sure viewers can enjoy movies without worrying about the virus.

While watching “The Unholy” in a theater, senior Taylor Smith said, “Considering it’s not a ‘COVID safe’ activity, I felt safe.”

Life is slowly returning to normal. Santa Barbara County recently moved from the red tier to the orange tier which allowed for more people to visit restaurants and movie theaters.

The community, although relieved, is still proceeding with caution.

“I hope that if they increase capacity, they will mandate proof of vaccination,” Taylor said.

Overall, this is a significant step for the movie industry, and audiences hope things will get even better in time.

If the community continues social distancing and wearing masks, things will be back to normal in no time.

Black Widow from the upcoming movie, “Black Widow”