Movie Theaters or Streaming Services?


Disney+ is one of the many streaming services overlooking the Amc 12 movie theater at Marina Pacifica (Photography by: Lance Nguyen)

Streaming services are an online entertainment source for people to watch tv shows, movies, and other streaming media. Some of the most popular streaming companies have services like Disney+ and Amazon Prime. The rise of streaming services has been largely influential because many people prefer to watch movies in their own homes and they are able to rewatch them again as many times as they like. The rise isn’t as massive as the plunge in movie theater sales.

One reason why there is a sudden surge in streaming service users and a simultaneous plunge in movie theater sales is the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, this impacted the lives of many, as the contagious virus was on the rise worldwide. Therefore, the government warned people to stop seeing each other in public, and everyone had to quarantine inside their own homes—meaning that people could not see movies at the cinema. Every company scrambled to try and figure out a way to get people to watch their movies and tv shows remotely. One company already had paved the way for other companies, that being the well-known platform Netflix. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the birth of so many streaming services happened. This includes Disney+, Amazon Prime, Peacock, Hbo Max, and more. Now that it’s 2023, it’s much safer for people to go out and enjoy the nice warm comfort of a movie theater and the luxury of a large screen, but what do people prefer? Streaming services, or movie theaters?

First, what is different about watching movies at home versus in the theaters? The research studied some of the pros of watching movies at home: they are very convenient, comfortable, cheaper, and privacy guaranteed.

A pro of watching movies in theaters is the higher quality and sound effects in theaters. This comparison shows that by watching movies at home, you are getting to watch them in the comfort of your own home. Although, if you’re watching movies in the theater you aren’t getting the same comfort, you do get a much better picture and sound quality than your average household television. 

Ryan Kudlius, a sophomore at Huntington Beach High School (HBHS), said, “Movie theaters are fun and all, but you cannot beat watching movies in the [safety] of your own home.”

Since so many people are going back to movie theaters with the decline of COVID-19 cases, why do people still like them?

Catelin Pugh, another sophomore HBHS student said, “I like movie theaters because they give off great vibes such as the lights, the popcorn, the movie itself, and all the memories I’ve made with my friends at movie theaters have been great.” You can create that same vibe and memories from your own home, but eating snacks in front of the silver screen is a definite fun time.

Now, why are streaming services so popular nowadays? Streaming services are catered to what you want so you aren’t tied down to one type of movie or TV show. Streaming services are also more cost-effective. Why spend a minimum of 10-15 before snacks just to watch one movie, instead of paying eight to 15 dollars a month to watch unlimited movies and tv shows?

Luke Blankerbaker, a senior student at Huntington Beach High school, said, “Streaming services are so much more convenient than movie theaters. I can watch so many movies and tv shows for the same price as watching one movie at the theater. Plus I save so much money on not buying those overpriced snacks.” It is much cheaper to watch movies in your own home. Not everyone has the resources to go to the theaters every time a new blockbuster movie releases.

After looking at the opinions and statements from local students, an obvious conclusion would be that streaming services are much better and more efficient than movie theaters. Although movie theaters give you a one-of-a-kind experience, it isn’t nearly as cost-effective as readily-available streaming services. Movie theaters give you better sound quality and a bigger screen, but it isn’t as casual and homey as watching it in your house—plus, you definitely save money on the snacks.