"What's the worst that could happen?" ~Famous Last Words

Back in the day, movie studios couldn't own movie theaters. It made sense: if a movie studio buys a theater chain, who's to tell them that they can't only show movies from their own studio? But something happened in 2020...well, a lot of things happened in 2020, so it's no wonder why this didn't get the press it would've under non-apocalyptic circumstances.

What Were the Paramount Consent Decrees?

Photo by Christian Wiediger
Salty! (Photo by Christian Wiediger)

Back in the 1900s (1948), the Supreme Court decided that movie studios had to divest themselves of movie theaters, birthing the Paramount Consent Decrees. This forced studios to cease "block-booking": the practice of forcing theaters to show a block of films from a particular studio if the theater wanted to show a sure hit movie. Nefarious AF.

In the midst of a flurry of deregulations, the Justice Department moved to terminate the PCD in 2020.

Saved by Free Market Capitalism?

Fortunately, enough movie studios exist to somewhat keep some parity in movie selections at theaters, but something that the PCD protected smaller theaters from was no longer there: movie studios can set nationwide ticket prices. Higher ticket prices leaves consumers with less money to spend on concessions, which are what movie theaters actually make money on.

As more movie studios merge into even giant-er conglomerates, the parity previously seen in movie selection can shrink.

Alamo Drafthouse

All of this comes from the acquisition of the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater chain by Sony Pictures Entertainment. Sony claims that they don't plan on blocking content from other studios; but without a mechanism to ensure they don't, there's no way to stop them from doing so.

What's the worst that could happen?

Today's Sign of the Apocalypse.

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H/T: Kare 11

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