10 20th-Century Staples We Never Thought Would Die


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Going to the Movies
Crowds stand in line at James Robinson cinema, in New York in the 1940s. George Marks/Getty Images
Crowds stand in line at James Robinson cinema, in New York in the 1940s. George Marks/Getty Images

Head to your local theater today and catch the latest flick. With movie attendance sputtering for decades, it might be an indulgence that soon will no longer be available.

The golden era of moviegoing was in the 1930s and 1940s, when more than half of the American population caught a flick each week. No wonder: The Depression and World War II were raging, and customers were desperate for some kind of escape. When those events (thankfully) ended in the mid-1940s, people didn't need weekly distractions. Plus, television came on the scene. Weekly movie attendance rates declined from a high of 65 percent in 1930 to less than 10 percent in the mid-1960s, and remains at that rate in the 2010s. [source: Cowden].

Some say high ticket prices and the availability and ease of streaming will kill off theaters. As of July 2016, Netflix, for one, had more than 83 million subscribers in more than 190 countries. But not everyone is convinced. Many theaters are fighting back by building cinemas with cushier seating and bigger screens, plus offering amenities such as food and beverages, including alcohol. There may be hope for enjoying the latest film with a big tub of buttery popcorn after all [source: Gibbs].