Boxing Day is traditionally a big day for cinemas in Australia.
After Christmas, many people want to get out of the house and out of the heat, and an air-conditioned cinema screening a new movie s just the ticket then and all through the summer holidays.
Franchise movies like Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, dramas like One Life and the Disney animated movie Wish are among those scheduled for release about that time.
But the strike by writers and actors has disrupted releases and might mean there's less to choose from than usual.
COVID lockdowns presented their own issues as people couldn't go to cinemas.
When cinemas reopened, the huge success of movies such as Top Gun: Maverick, Barbie and Oppenheimer showed there was still plenty of enthusiasm for the cinema experience.
But the latest challenge is two-pronged: the simultaneous strike of both screenwriters and actors in Hollywood over residual payments and artificial intelligence rights in the digital age.
The strikes were still on at the time of writing. Until they are resolved, they obviously affect movies - and TV shows and streaming programs - yet to begin shooting and those still in various stages of production.
There is also an impact on movies that have been completed and are awaiting release since the stars are not available for media interviews and other publicity work to help boost audience awareness and increase ticket sales.
It's not just American movies that are affected.
Eric Bana, star of the completed Australian film Force of Nature: The Dry 2, is a member of the American Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists so he can't do interviews for the film, which has had its release postponed.
And without a constant stream of new movies to show, cinemas have a big problem.
The executive director of the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia Lori Flekser says that "with negotiations underway in the US, any observations about the potential time frame or outcomes of the strike would simply be speculation".
Scott Seddon is president of Independent Cinemas Australia and owns Scotty's Cinemas, based in the Hunter Region, with about 550 screens.
"We normally represent up to a quarter of the Australian box office," he says.
Seddon says cinema is "still on the road to recovery" after the pandemic.
He thinks Wall Street will call for the strikes to be resolved as soon as possible since film studios and other companies need to make money (it's called show business for a reason).
Flekser says that "while the demise of cinemas has been incorrectly predicted for many decades, the Australian Bureau of Statistics data released in April this year, Cultural and Creative Activities, 2021-22, showed that cinema-going remains the most popular out-of-home cultural activity among Australians of all ages".
This year saw the "Barbenheimer" phenomenon - both Barbie and Oppenheimer enjoying huge grosses, with many people seeing both films on the same day.
And the latest Mission: Impossible movie, boosted by a visit to Australia by its star, Tom Cruise, also did well.
Kieren Dell, chief executive officer of Majestic Cinemas, a chain with nine cinemas across regional NSW and Queensland, says that on average Australians go to the movies four times a year.
It's not nearly as often as the 40 or more times a year during the years before television, but still one of the highest per capita rates in the world.
"Eighty per cent of people go at least once a year," Dell says.
Some film companies seem optimistic the strike will be settled soon: Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon is scheduled for release on October 19.
Other films, such as Dune 2, have had their release dates postponed: that sequel was originally scheduled for November but has been moved to March 2024.
Ben Zeccola is the chief executive officer of Palace Films, which has 19 directly managed cinemas - including Palace Electric in Canberra.
Zeccola says cinema attendance is about 15 per cent below that of pre-COVID levels.
"The primary factor is there still isn't a sufficient supply of films," he says.
Supply chains were interrupted and not enough films have been released in cinemas, a hangover from COVID-19.
During the pandemic some studios, uncertain how long lockdowns would last, diverted major films that would probably have had cinema releases to their streaming platforms including Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods.
That was good for subscribers but a movie that doesn't get a cinema release loses the potential to make money and does not receive much publicity.
And in most cases a movie that goes straight to streaming lacks the cachet a cinema release still bestows.
"Cinema has a quality standard," Dell says.
"If it's not good enough for the cinema, they put it on streaming, but won't make much money off it."
On the other hand, some films originally planned for streaming were given cinema releases including the horror movie Smile, which grossed more than 10 times its modest budget.
Dell says horror is in one sense "the saviour of cinema" - horror movies, often made on low budgets, can attract large audiences. The Australian-made Talk to Me was a recent international hit, grossing more than $100 million on a budget of less than $5 million.
Sometimes there hasn't been enough of a particular kind of film to meet demand.
"At Easter The Super Mario Bros Movie was fantastic but it was the only family film - normally there are two or three family films," Dell says.
Dune 2 is another movie that has had its release date postponed until its star, Timothee Chalamet, and other cast members can promote it.
Unlikely as it is that the strikes will continue for a prolonged period - it's in everyone's interest to resolve them - if the supply of movies did dry up for a while, cinemas would find a way to survive.
Dell says other programming possibilities include alternative content such as National Theatre Live and opera and concert performances and hiring out cinemas for parties and charity events.
There are also smaller films and non-English language films, areas in which Palace has a significant presence and which are not affected by the strikes.
Zeccola says that while Palace makes 70 to 80 per cent of its box office takings from mainstream releases, there's still room for a healthy number of less ballyhooed films including documentaries and subtitled films.
Palace holds regular film festivals - including French and Italian - from which some films are chosen for a general release.
Zeccola and his colleagues attend international film festivals such as Cannes, obtain films from cultural organisations such as the Alliance Francaise and watch many screeners to make selections.
He also likes to support Australian films - most of which can't afford big marketing budgets - when he can.
Australia releases between 20 and 40 films a year.
"Five or six or 10 of them do really well, one or two are big hits," Zeccola says.
"They live and die on their own merits."
Some screenings have Q&A sessions with filmmakers, providing special experiences.
And, of course, people can become more adventurous in their moviegoing - seeing what's on, researching titles that sound interesting, and making new discoveries.
What about the long-term future of cinema at a time when streaming, despite its issues, and other forms of home entertainment are popular and likely to become even more so?
People in the industry are optimistic and thinking of ways to keep attracting audiences.
Some things don't really work.
The recurring gimmick of 3-D isn't popular in Australia, Dell says. Avatar: The Way of Water sold less than 30 per cent of its tickets to 3D screenings and the Australian average 3D take up when "flat" versions are screening simultaneously is 3 per cent.
It's not just about the films. Dell says, "The younger generation can't see themselves owning a home.
"They're not focused on owning things - they're focused on experiences," Dell said.
A lot of effort has been made in recent years to make seeing a movie feel like a special event.
Refurbishing cinema spaces to premium status is expensive and might mean halving the number of seats, but having premium lounges with luxurious seating and in-session service allow operators to charge higher ticket prices and offer menus that are fancier than popcorn and choc tops.
Not that the traditional movie accompaniments are to be sniffed at. Dell says about 40 per cent of a cinema's income is from refreshments, which are more profitable than the money from films. The split of box office takings between cinemas and distributors is negotiated.
"You pay for film hire - it's about 45 to 50 per cent on average."
For smaller films it might be 30 per cent.
While the future of cinema might seem uncertain, Flekser says that "several films this year have broken box office records and drawn Australians back into cinemas to enjoy the unquestionable enhancement of seeing a film on the big screen.
"The communal experience of going to the movies with family and friends has proven, yet again, to be robust and durable," Flekser said.