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Going to the movies is a vital part of our culture and it will survive the coronavirus
Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

My mother went to the hospital when I was 14, and it was the first (but certainly not last) time she talked about what my sister and I should do if she died: "Don't be sad. Say goodbye, and then go to a movie."

She was released the next day, but her guidance has always stayed with me. When times are tough, movies are an escape into a different world, one we enter for a couple of hours and then leave, emboldened, entertained, moved and sometimes even changed. Things don't have to be bad for movies to work their magic; they are equally transformative when life is grand.

Coronavirus has wreaked havoc upon movies and movie theaters around the country. For the first and only time since movies were invented, cinemas across the globe have shut down. World War II couldn't do that. The Great Depression couldn't do that. The Cuban Missile Crisis and the Kennedy assassination couldn't do that. Nothing has ever gotten in the way of the movies, until now.


Recent news that AMC Theatres, the biggest cinema chain in the U.S., could be facing bankruptcy, combined with reports that streaming services like Disney+ are seeing record growth during the unprecedented stay-at-home period, have led some to speculate that once the coronavirus threat has passed, moviegoing won't recover.

Moviegoing will survive.

To be sure, there's reason to worry. The number of tickets sold each year has eroded – 14 percent fewer people went to the movies in 2019 than 20 years earlier. Ticket prices, meanwhile, have risen steadily to offset that decline (it cost an average of $9.11 to see a movie last year, while in 1998, the year Titanic was released, the average ticket cost $4.69). Complaints about rude, talkative, device-addicted audiences are common, and long before the virus there was growing concern in Hollywood that people just wanted to stream at home. Movie studios, streaming services and film exhibitors have been eyeing each other warily for years, battling over the right of cinemas to show movies before they appear on Netflix or Amazon.


Photo by Felix Mooneeram on


That movie "window" has been in contention for decades, ever since studios discovered in the late 1980s that they could sell movies directly to consumers. Then, it took nearly a year for a huge hit like Top Gun to come to VHS tape, which was just one of the "ancillary revenue" streams studios could use to ensure a movie earned money long after its box-office run. Home video was at the top of that secondary revenue stream, but there were also sales to cable and network TV, to airlines and hotel chains, even theatrical re-releases.

On its own, chasing after the dream of a pure "direct-to-consumer" business, Hollywood drained that revenue stream. VHS gave way to DVD, which was subsumed almost entirely by streaming – and the ubiquity of streaming services meant travelers didn't need to pay to watch movies in hotels or airplanes.

And yet … none of that killed movie theaters. If fewer people, on average, saw movies in cinemas each year, about 3 million peoplewere still going to movie theaters every day, and despite the fluctuations, that number had remained fairly constant.


Photo by Krists Luhaers on


It may be nothing compared with pre-television moviegoing; in 1946, 90 million people went to the movies once a week, but by 1960 that had plummeted to 40 million. Naysayers predicted the death of movie theaters then, but larger-than-life gimmicks like CinemaScope, Cinerama, the first wave of 3-D and even Smell-O-Vision cropped up, and movie lovers proved that they could be passionate about movies and TV, that one didn't have to usurp the other.

Likewise, those 15 to 20 million people who go to the movies each week despite the advent of streaming prove that sitting in the dark is a habit moviegoers don't want to break.

There's no doubt movie exhibitors have a difficult task ahead. They're going to need to reassure audiences – quickly and constantly – that moviegoing is safe. To begin, they might need to limit the number of tickets sold, and to show movies less frequently, with vigilant and high-profile cleaning in between screenings.

They're going to need to be scrupulous about cleanliness – more scrupulous than they have been, for sure. Snack bars, restrooms and auditoriums will need to be equally spotless, and movie theaters will need to offer many options for audiences to clean their own seats and spaces. It's not going to be easy. The most important innovations won't be on screen, they'll be in the auditoriums themselves.

But all those wonderful people out there in the dark are going to return. It's in their nature. And "their" means "our." We need movies. We need the reassurance, hope, excitement, belief, happiness and promise that they bring. We have always craved stories in the dark. The brilliant light of the projector is our fire, and just as we have for eons we will gather around it to be told stories that help us make sense of our terrifying, glorious, overwhelming world.

That will never be more true than after this collective trauma, when we finally all begin to stagger out of our houses to see how the world has changed. That time will come, and like the victims of any disaster, we will take stock and find that some have fared better than others. We will assess what we have retained, mourned what we have lost, and we will all follow my mother's words: "Don't be sad. Say goodbye, and then go to a movie."

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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