‘Wakanda Forever’ cannot save movie theatres, but this plan might

Hollywood has framed getting back to theatres as a content problem. But what we need most is to rethink the design of movie theatres altogether.

I can’t remember the last movie I saw in the theatre. But I can recall just about everything else about the experience.

There’s the scent of popcorn growing stale under irradiated lamps like the hotline of a truck stop. I remember selecting my exact seat online, upholstered with 20-year-old fabric dank like an intramural hockey player’s equipment bag. I remember the Jenga tower of large concessions balanced atop garbage cans—which I contributed to, carefully, on the way out.

Perhaps these memories were all from one night, or they’re a supercut of many. But they do represent the mental model of my nearest AMC cineplex, which stands as a beige monument to 2000s suburbia—an era when Netflix mailed DVDs and the hottest phone was a Motorola Razr.

Even before COVID-19—as plenty of theatres were retrofitted with leather recliners, better image and sound, and dinner offerings—it was clear that the experience of going to the movies was anything but cinematic.

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Image Credit: Cinemark

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