History repeats itself. After the Spanish Flu epidemic of the early 20th Century left movie theaters devastated financially—sound familiar?—movie studios, who still had plenty deep pockets, swooped in and started buying them up. The result was that the studios ended up owning a lot of the theaters. As a general rule, all those anti-monopoly laws that Teddy Roosevelt ramrodded during his presidency were a really good thing. They brought an end to the age of the “robber barons” (for a while) and led to the average American having better choices and a fairer shake.
This past week, some judge in his infinite wisdom overturned those laws applying to movie studios not being allowed to own too many theaters. Will all the big studios now buy up all the struggling theaters? It could well happen. How would that affect us, the moviegoers? It could mean diminished choices, just like before. Movies that before could get a theatrical run will now find it harder to get played on the big screens. A theater owned by Disney, for example, isn’t likely to play movies from other studios. Likewise with the theaters owned by other studios. Smaller independent movies—like Horror films—will end up going straight to video, with their profit margins paying the price, with the result that there will be fewer of them made. The last time, it took decades before the guv’ment passed those anti-trust laws to stop that sort of thing. How long will it take them this time to realize they screwed up and move to fix it by reinstating those laws? And why the hell did they have to go and repeal those laws now, when theaters are the most vulnerable. It’s the golden rule, people. He who has the gold gets to make the rules. Come back, Teddy! We need you!