iPic Theaters, the Future of Atmospheric Cinema

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Ever since the silver screen days of the 1920s, film has a massive part in American culture. But film is more than its slick one-liners and paradigm-shifting reels, as its medium is equally as big a player: the screen. At South Seaport iPic Theater they have taken everything in today's consumerist movie theater industry to the next level. The theater has comfier seats, better sound systems, fancier foyers, more formal staff, and, of course, much bigger screens. It may be cozy to wrap up in a blanket and watch Mean Girls for the ninth time this year, but nothing can beat the experience of a blockbuster illuminated on a screen bigger than your apartment.

As long as movie theaters have been hubs of culture, awkward first dates have also been a rite of passage. It is difficult for today's youth to relate to this social rite, with services such as Netflix and Hulu. Since Netflix introduced streaming in 2008, film experiences have become increasingly more personalized. Watch what you want, when you want it, for $8 a month.

Ben Cook ('19), a freshman and cinephile, believes services like Netflix are causing a drop in theater attendance. However, according to Statista, global box office revenue is expected to rise from “about $38 billion in 2016 to nearly $50 billion in 2020.” This increase can be traced to a new advent in theater design: the personalized movie theater.

To get a sense of this new era of movie theater, step into an iPic Theater. Sure, the local multiplex cannot offer thousands of titles (including complete television shows) or the privacy you would get in your own home. But no one has ever gone to the movies because it is convenient or cozy. People go to the movies for the experience of the big screen.

What does this mean for the future of the movie theater? Well, for New Yorkers, it likely means a rise in ticket costs (those art deco interiors are not paying for themselves). This focus on the experience also represents a tipping-point for art of filmmaking itself. With too much emphasis on the “movie” in “movie theater,” this could mean a drab future for film. Cheap quality filler content could mean a sort of Bradburian, cheap-experience-over-true-art type of future.

In the meantime, go see a movie, they are good for you. And, with very comfortable seats, iPic makes it is easy to indulge.

CityRyan Turner