Is Coronavirus killing the film industry?
Hollywood is feeling the effects of the global pandemic, after suspending all activity indefinitely and going into an unexpected hiatus due to the spread of the deadly virus. However, adapting to the current climate of uncertainty may not be the only outcome that movie makers must come to terms with if the killer bug’s ramifications are long term. The possibility that Hollywood will never be the same again is real and how to deal with such an unimaginable outcome is the billion-dollar question the industry could face.
Inasmuch as Hollywood has adapted to the public health crisis by postponing or pushing back movie release dates, cancelling various promotional tours and festivals and shutting down business in accordance with government guidelines to manage the spread of the virus, these are unchartered waters. Nobody knows what is going to happen in the next day, never mind next week and next year. The only certainty is the uncertainty of the crisis.
The losses in box office sales and the mounting costs brought on by production delays and movie release dates moving down the calendar are colossal. Films and TV series have long depicted numerous fantastical global catastrophes which bring the world to its knees before a hero or heroine (more often that not the former) save the day, just in time before the credits roll. Being faced with the reality of these fantasies is probably a bit more disconcerting than seeing them on the big screen.
The much-anticipated James Bond movie No Time to Die, which was to be Daniel Craig’s final depiction of the debonair 007 agent, was pushed back at the first sign of crises to November. The box office bloodbath continued with Disney’s Mulan being pushed back along with Universal’s F9, while Paramount delayed the release of The Lovebirds and A Quiet Place Part II. If and when these and other films suffering as a result of this extraordinary period in our history do come back to the big screen, it’s hard to imagine that going to the cinema will be the same as it was before.
AMC is banning all Universal films from showing in their theaters after ‘Trolls World Tour’ was a success on VOD
Future Universal films 🍿
• ‘No Time to Die’
• ‘Halloween Kills’
• ‘Fast 9’
• ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’
— Culture Crave 🎥 (@CultureCrave) April 29, 2020
The coronavirus-mandated pushback naturally extends to all things Hollywood, including movie festivals. Austin Texas’ South by Southwest festival, Las Vegas’ theatre owners’ confab CinemaCon and New York’s Tribeca Film Festival were some of the first to be crossed off the calendar. Organisers of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, which represents a popular destination in the South of France for moviemakers and stars in early summer, is scrambling to salvage the event in 2020. When it might run it is as yet up in the air.
Industry optimists are clinging on to hope things will return back to normal, or some close semblance to the normal we’ve all known and – maybe, now, looking back in hindsight – probably took for granted. On top of those that work in Hollywood directly, another group that’s sipping from this fountain of optimism is comprised of bookmakers who are going to press with entertainment futures for the 2021 Academy Award nominations.
— Reuters (@Reuters) April 30, 2020
Obviously, a return to utopia would be welcomed by everyone on the planet and not just Hollywood and those businesses within and around the film industry, but it’s not so simple and straightforward. The longer the so-called lockdown – anything from a mandatory full quarantine to non-mandatory recommendations shutting down businesses and events or encouraging people to stay home – goes on for, the tougher returning to normal is going to be.
Just as restarting the economy won’t be as simple as flipping a light switch, getting people to act normal won’t be as simple as a director barking out “Action” on set. The coronavirus has changed life as we know it. What is to become of it, we are yet to find out.
At the time of writing, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world has crossed 3 million and the total number of known fatalities due to the deadly virus is fast approaching 250,000. More than a third of the planet’s population or approximately 2.6 billion people are in some form of lockdown according to Agence France-Presse, and just to put that into colourful perspective, that number is greater than the world’s population was during WWII.
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