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Movie Theaters Are Reopening, But Will Audiences Stick With Streaming Services?

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Moviegoers walk in to the AMC Burbank multiplex on reopening day as theaters in Southern California are allowed to operate at reduced capacity. VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images
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Local multiplexes finally are starting to welcome back customers. But will they actually return?

Last year the box office sank as fast as the Titanic ... and there was no Leonardo di Caprio to bail it out. According to a new report from the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the number of movie tickets sold in North America plummeted from 1.24 billion in 2019 to just 240 million last year -- yes, one billion fewer admissions.

So if movie fans didn’t go to theaters, where did they go?

Nowhere. They stayed at home. And watched Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus -- and all the other streaming services.

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The annual MPAA study found that more than one billion global consumers now subscribe to an online video service. That’s not only a record, but also a global increase of more than 25% from the previous year, and more than 30 percent in the United States.

AMC, the world’s biggest chain, is re-opening dozens of local theaters. But with so many used to watching movies at home, the test will be how many will actually return.

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