It’s no secret that the theatrical movie business isn’t what it was. Even the once-lucrative “at least we’ll get two hours of peace where we don’t have to say a single goddamn word to our family” Thanksgiving weekend was the “second-worst Thanksgiving weekend since 1997.” Despite the litany of think pieces and industry prognostications, the answer is pretty clear: we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Now a new study has shed some light on how movie theatres might be able to win back some of the audiences they’ve lost – and it’s not a theatrical release of Pups Alone, the Home Alone knock-off featuring Dolph Lundgren and several talking dogs.

The study, commissioned by Quorum, Cultique, and Fanthropology (which frankly all sound like shell companies created by Bond villains) surveyed “more than 2,500 pre-pandemic moviegoers” and found that 49% of them no longer go to the movies at all. 59% of those “former” theatergoers said that “they don’t feel safe in theaters.” Of these disenchanted film fans, more than half said that they would either be “fine” or even “more comfortable” with a mandate requiring them to show proof of vaccination in order to attend a screening. 

Which makes sense; after all, nobody wants to risk getting seriously ill just so they can watch a gang of scrappy kids chase down a floating blue glob named “Muncher.” Sure, vaccine mandates are a polarizing issue in America right now, but it’s entirely possible, judging from these poll results, that the number of people you could woo back to the cinemas with a vaccine requirement might outnumber the number of people who would rage-quit moviegoing out of spite. Plus, there’s the added bonus of siding with public health measures during a pandemic. 

While some states already have mandates requiring proof of vaccination at movie theatres, the big chains have yet to adopt it as a standard policy. And it’s not like this suggestion hasn’t cropped up before; this past summer, critic David Sims speculated that vaccine mandates “might be the only way to salvage the long-term future of the cinema experience.” 

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