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A lot of movie theaters have been closed for over a month now, and as many yearn for the day they can attend a theatrical release like normal, it's important to remember there have been some positives to this brave new world in cinema. For example celebrity-hosted online watch parties have had a real spike in popularity, and I'd love to see them continue to keep that popularity once this is all over.
For those that aren't familiar yet, studios, directors, and websites have collaborated with the stars of popular movies and hosted watch alongs where users experience the movie alongside the people who made it possible. As someone who only recently got to experience the fun of one, it's a trend I hope only grows even when the theaters re-open and folks begin to have plans outside the home.
The Fun And Glory Of Celebrity Watch Parties
I love reading facts and insights about movies, but hearing them over the movie I'm trying to watch has never been my bag. Directors and actors live-tweeting mass screenings of movies as I watch is my preferred method of consumption, as I can still enjoy the movie while reading comments and interacting with these directors and other fans.
For me, these watch parties are a way of reliving the thrill and excitement of attending a midnight release of a new movie, without all the stuff I dislike about it. Sure, a good amount of it is rehashing the same discussions we've had over the past year about these classic and well-loved movies, but I can just scroll past those tired takes if I want. That's not a tactic that really works in person, unless you don't have a problem with being rude.
What I'm in it for is the fresh content and discussion amongst the cast and crew about how these movies were made, or some interesting tidbits from behind the scenes. Again, it's not like it's anything I couldn't get watching a featurette or the movie with director's commentary, but in this tweetable form, it's like Pop-Up Video without the screen being overtaken by random trivia.
The Problems With Participating In Celebrity Watch Parties Post-Quarantine
It's hard to imagine a world where celebrity-hosted watch parties will be quite as popular in a post-quarantine society. Some are already itching to jump back in theaters and leave their homes, and as more people venture out and about in the evenings, the number of participants in these watch parties will dwindle.
Plus, it shouldn't be understated that part of the reason these quarantine watch parties have been so successful is because there are currently a large number of celebrities with open schedules. With so many shows and movies out of production and on hold, there's now time for guys like James Gunn and the Russos to hang out one evening and chat with fans as they watch their respective movies. This is a rare moment of access and availability that probably won't remain once Hollywood gets back to work.
That's disappointing for someone like me, who has found this to be a massively enjoyable part of quarantine. In reality, my toddler keeps me home most evenings to begin with, and no babysitter means that the wife and I often attend theaters separately and not together like we'd prefer. I've found a way to make the best of that in quarantine, and now I feel it just won't be quite as good once this is all over.
Is There A Way Celebrity Watch Parties Can Remain Popular Post-Quarantine?
I believe if Hollywood is up to keeping it a thing, celebrity watch parties could still thrive in a post-quarantine world. Sure, the days of first-run movie watch parties may be at an end if theaters and studios continue to fight, but there's certainly opportunities to use these watch parties as a mutual means of promotion and entertainment.
For example, it's a very rare occasion that I'll purchase a Blu-Ray or DVD on its first day of release. With that said, if I knew there was going to be a celebrity watch party happening the Friday follow the home media release, there's certainly some more temptation on my end to at the very least rent said movie to participate in the fun.
I could also see a scenario in which stuff like this continues in some Fathom Events-like manner, though I'm not sure we're quite at the stage where mass texting in theaters will be acceptable amongst patrons. Really, this experience is ideal at home, and it'll depend on whether or not celebrity watch parties are gratifying enough for enough people to stay in and participate in them if they'll still maintain popularity.
Why It's Important To Work Towards Keeping This New Experience
Innovation in movie theaters does not come along often. Sure, we've gotten widespread stadium seating, sports bar-quality food and beer, but it's a rare thing to get a new and successful way to enhance the actual movie experience. 4D theater seats don't seem primed for mass adoption anytime soon, and VR in movies came and went rather quickly.
Celebrity watch parties have gained a lot of traction in recent weeks, and it sucks that something that is actually fun and successful could very well fall out of style due to the world returning to normal. Don't get me wrong, I think we're all ready for that day to come, but for all the bummer things that have happened for movies as a result of this quarantine, this was one of the positives I'm hoping will stick around. Maybe I'm just being an alarmist for no reason, and this trend isn't as in danger as I think it is, but it nonetheless weighs on my mind.
Of course, that's just my opinion, and I'd love to hear others thoughts on celebrity watch parties, and whether you're a fan of this trend. List all thoughts down in the comments below, and as always, be sure to stay with CinemaBlend for all the latest news happening in movies and television.