LOS ANGELES  – Streaming had the future always looking a bit murky for the movie theater industry, but Derek Zemrak says now he has zero idea what’s ahead. 

“With technology changing before COVID-19, it’s like...what is going to happen after? Realistically we know people are not just going to flood back in,” he said. 


Zemrak has toes in both ponds: he produces films, so can appreciate the allure and power of streaming, but he also owns a movie theater in Northern California. Maybe people won’t flood back in like he says, but with the rise of streaming demand that has come with the pandemic stay at home orders, will people want to come back at all?

Especially when you take this information into account; The average ticket price for a domestic theater was $9.16 last year – nearly $50 with tax for a family of four to go see a movie, not to mention popcorn and soda.

When it comes to the price of streaming at home, Netflix standard plan costs $12.99 a month, and to rent a newly released movie like Trolls World Tour, that’s just about $20. People really bought into that at home experience. Universal Pictures said Trolls was the biggest digital debut ever for an original title. 

Zemrak explains the lifespan of movie theaters like this. 

“It’s a curve. Movie theaters are here. Are they done? No. But they are on the downward slide,” he said. 

And he thinks the pandemic just moved theaters further down the curve.

“People in the baby boomers and older, that’s what you did for entertainment, everybody went on their dates to the movies. But nowadays, there are so many options for the younger generation that it’s not a big deal to go to the movie theater,” he said. 

How long it’ll take for the curve to reach the bottom, Zemrak doesn’t know. So he eagerly, and a bit anxiously, awaits what lies ahead.