Despite being indoors (a red flag), the sort of behavior engaged in at the movies is, relatively speaking, benign.
As COVID-19 case numbers drop, hospitalizations decrease, vaccine administrations increase, and blockbuster season approaches, Americans who think big movies deserve a big screen are wondering when they can dare return to theaters. The closest deadline for many is the March 31 release date of Godzilla vs. Kong: If you’re going to watch a skyscraper-sized monkey punch a battleship-length lizard, you probably want to do so on a screen the height of a McMansion.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke for philistines everywhere in August when he stated that movie theaters were “not that high on the list of essentials,” and signaled that he would keep them closed in America’s largest city indefinitely. And when The New York Times interviewed health experts back in September about moviegoing, they implicitly took Cuomo’s side: None advised buying a ticket. But if other indoor activities are reopening—as dining did in New York City on Friday—movie theaters should too. As the epidemiologist Julia Marcus has argued, expecting Americans to abstain from social contact is unrealistic.