Internet Saved the Cinema

I was born in 1988 Slovakia which was then a communist country. I remember going to the cinema in the late 1990s in a post communist country; people were eagerly standing in long lines, hoping that they would be able to buy a ticket for their favourite movie that just premiered. It was not unheard of our cinema to sell out all tickets for their show. Gradually, as the 2000s rolled in and more and more people owned VHS and then DVD players, the cinemas started to empty and I can recall multiple discussions people had about not going to a cinema and instead waiting half a year for their favourite movie to come out on a VHS/DVD. Sometimes, if there was less than five people attending the screenings, the screening would be cancelled and tickets refunded.


A declining number of cinema goers could of course be associated with economics as well, however, a large number of movies that people rented from the VHS and DVD stores could serve as a counterargument that there is an additional reason for a renewed interest in the cinema experience on top of potential financial reasons. The cinemas I visited were being closed or screenings cancelled because people were not showing up. However, in recent years, something has changed. The increasing number of blogs, websites, or youtube videos featuring reviews and discussions about new releases suddenly meant that if you did not see the latest blockbuster movie or any movie of any genre that you were interested in, you fell behind in a conversation. The Internet created a new space for movie fans to discuss movies as they were being released.


Additionally, I believe that people were able to rediscover the joy of a seeing a movie on a big screen which together with darkness after the lights go out creates a certain vacuum around a movie viewer (unless you are unlucky and surrounded by people who talk or interrupt the movie otherwise). Naturally, one has to admit the social aspect of movie going, including a capitalist bonus in a form of special merchandise sold when certain blockbusters enter the cinemas (special cups are probably the most common form of merchandise exclusive to cinemas for a limited time period) is important, too.

Although not all movies have the same attendance and some screenings are rather empty, the future of the cinemas seems brighter than a decade ago, and I think that Internet has had a huge positive role in the revival.


Interior view of Hale’s Tours (a film show set inside a mock train carriage) on London’s Oxford Street, which first opened May 1906.” source of image and caption:

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