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Last Saturday, Stephen King decided to go to the movies with his nephew. Afterwards, he felt “terrible.” Not because moviegoers were sitting too close, or because the concession stands weren’t being cleaned. But because there simply weren’t enough patrons to warrant the theater being open. According to King, there were more screens than there were customers. He documented the experience in a Twitter post, sharing his concern for the future of the moviegoing experience:

As movie theaters slowly reopen their doors to the public, we’re quickly learning that things have drastically changed. Major chains including AMC and Cinemark have decided to remain open, despite the lack of blockbusters headed for a theatrical release in 2020. Theaters that are up and running have established strict social distancing and high cleanliness standards. So technically, if someone really wanted to see Tenet, there’s a way they could do so that complies with Covid-19 protocols. But that doesn’t necessarily mean people are willing to risk it.

All this is compounded by the fact that health and government officials are discouraging the public from attending movie theaters. In August, epidemiologist Dr. Abdul El-Sayed stated that going to the movies is just about “the last thing” he'd do during the pandemic. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo listed movie theaters as one of the “least essential businesses” as gyms began to reopen.

King already tapped into a post-pandemic reality with his 1978 novel The Stand, which has been adapted into a new series for CBS All Access. The first episode premieres on December 17.

Gallery — What We Miss Most About Going To Movie Theaters: