For more than a century, filmmaking has been one of the greatest American pastimes. Many of us can recall the first movie we ever experienced in the theaters; for this author it was Muppets on Treasure Island. With the convenience of streaming services like Netflix or Hulu, it could appear as if the golden age of movie theaters has passed, but digging further below the surface tells us a different story.
Though there are fewer theater locations than 20 years ago, there is a higher concentration of screens and auditoriums in existing theaters. In 1997 there were a total of 31,865 movie screens; today even with fewer theater locations there are a total of 40,246 screens many of them outfitted with 3D or IMAX capabilities.
Compared to game day tickets and amusement parks, luxury cinemas offer an affordable but special family day out. In 2017, people in the US went out to the movies over two times more than theme parks and sporting events combined. Professional sports leagues, for example the NFL and NBA, see an annual 133 million visitors while movie theaters welcome in 1.2 billion guests every year.
From weekday afternoon matinees to midnight premiers, visiting the theater to experience a film on the big screen will always be a thrill. Take a look at this infographic from Dolby for more on the present and future of theaters, how new technology is surging us forward into a new world of storytelling, and why cinema isn’t dead.