Opinion: Movies are back and bringing people together this summer

Audiences are returning to movie theaters this summer to see much-anticipated releases and have shared experiences. (Canva)

One of the toughest and most disappointing parts of the pandemic for a lot of people was the lack of social experiences because of popular events getting postponed or shut down.

For me in particular, one of the hardest things was the never-ending stream of headlines announcing that many of my most-anticipated movies were being postponed. The delays started at a few weeks or months but eventually turned into over a year for most releases.

Of course I missed the sporting events, concerts and other social events, but the movies hit especially hard. My family is very much a movie-going family. The best part of every holiday together is going to see the latest movie, and the Oscars are bigger than the Super Bowl in my house.

Movies are a topic of conversation, a (usually) entertaining activity and something that brings my family together. I don’t think we’re alone in this. Going to the movies is a shared cultural experience that was largely absent from society during the pandemic.

Especially in the era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises, the majority of the population goes to see the same movies. When there is so much that divides us, movies provide something in common for everyone to enjoy and discuss.

There were a few events that made up for the lack of theater showings during the pandemic, including the Michael Jordan “Last Dance” documentary on ESPN and new streaming shows such as “Tiger King” and “WandaVision.” Even though we watched these in our homes, they still provided some semblance of a shared cultural experience. We talked about them on social media and with friends and saw countless memes come from them.

Still, the experience was incomplete without the in-person social experience of going to the theater with friends and family, laughing and crying with a crowd of people and then talking the whole way home about what you liked and didn’t like.

But movies are making a comeback this summer in a big way.

As vaccines became more available across the country this spring, theaters re-opened and the movie delays finally came to an end. The release schedule will be extra crowded for the second half of 2021, with movies slated for 2020 and 2021 all hitting theaters together.

The unofficial start to the resurrected summer movie season was the apocalyptic horror film “A Quiet Place Part II,” the follow-up to the 2018 hit. The surprising and encouraging part of the film’s release was that it made the same amount of money in its first weekend at the box office that it was projected to make before the pandemic according to NBC News.

With that, the floodgates were opened, and Hollywood is set for a major comeback with a barrage of surefire hits and franchise films.

Just to name a few: Lin Manuel Miranda’s “In The Heights” debuted on June 11 and “Fast and Furious 9” came out on June 25. Marvel’s “Black Widow” will hit theaters on July 9 and “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” featuring LeBron James, will come out on July 16. And that’s just this month.

A handful of Disney and Marvel films, a new James Bond movie, the highly-anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” and a long-awaited fourth Matrix movie are all set to hit theaters before the end of the year.

Do you remember what it was like the last time a big Marvel movie came out, or, if you’re old enough, how people reacted when the original Space Jam hit theaters? These are major cultural moments in the making, and there is power to bring people together in theaters across the nation this summer.

Whether you consider yourself an avid moviegoer or not, people will be going to the movies to see fast cars, superheroes and larger-than-life basketball stars this summer, and it will be glorious.

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