The death of the theater experience had been a long time in coming. Nearly a century ago, people went there to escape the world outside. Today, however, most of us have so many options including streaming to our home systems, in more comfortable chairs, and an ability to pause for a moment. This already threatened the status quo, and in a few months, few of us will ever wish to return. It’s time for the big screen to adapt, or die.

Existential questions about the future of cinema-going are nothing new for Hollywood. The rise of streaming services and declines in ticket sales have prompted much hand-wringing about the relevance of movie theaters. But the current coronavirus pandemic has only amplified those anxieties as the industry faces an apocalyptic reality: Nearly all movie theaters are dark across North America, and box-office data isn’t being reported. Blockbusters have been rescheduled or delayed indefinitely. And, perhaps most shockingly, a major studio is releasing one of its films online, bypassing theaters entirely—a line that Hollywood’s old guard has never crossed before.

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