Coronavirus’ Impact On the Film Industry

Everyone is well aware of COVID-19, and it is affecting our lives. Right now, everyone is doing everything they can to avoid the spread. People are buying toilet papers and hand sanitizers like crazy, washing their hands every so often, even going so far as to quarantine themselves for a while. This fear is scaring every one of us to the bones, and it is only a matter of time before a vaccine can be found.

The coronavirus is taking a toll on how we live our lives. And I wanted to talk about how it is affecting the film industry. It may have been late to bring this topic up, but I need to get this off my chest. From delays of film releases to the postponement of movie projects to the closing of movie theaters, let me break down how COVID-19 is causing an impact in the film industry.

Delayed Film Releases:

The postponement of movie releases started back in January when the China film industry announced that they were delaying their films due to the early stages of COVID-19. Then the spread becomes a global pandemic. Nearly every significant blockbuster set for release starting in March to at least May has been delayed for a later date or postponed indefinitely.

Films such as No Time to Die, A Quiet Place Part II, Mulan (2020 live-action remake), Black Widow, F9: The Fast Saga, Antlers, Wonder Woman 1984, The New Mutants, and many more are all confirmed to be delayed. I was looking forward to many of these films, and waiting longer to see them in the movie theater will likely affect box office sales. (But more on that later.)

Suspended Productions:

It’s not just filmed being released this year; some movies are currently in production or have yet to start production but have been suspended due to the outbreak. Some films, including The Batman, the Avatar sequels, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Jurassic World: Dominion, and more, suspend production. The Elvis Presley biopic also stopped its production after Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were tested positive for COVID-19. Delayed films include the Home Alone reboot, the Little Mermaid live-action remake, a video game film adaptation of Uncharted, and the 3rd film in the Fantastic Beasts series.

Canceled Award Shows/Festivals:

There are also many award shows and festivals that have been postponed or canceled. While two awards ceremonies worldwide did occur after COVID-19 became a widespread pandemic, others have not been so lucky. The Golden Raspberry Awards, an award ceremony that celebrates the worst films of the year, was initially scheduled to be held but was ultimately canceled after they failed to keep the space it was going to take place. The winners (or losers, for that matter) were announced on the Razzies’ YouTube channel instead. The Tribeca Film Festival was announced as one of the many postponed festivals, while the South By Southwest Festival was canceled due to the coronavirus spread. The 2020 Cannes Film Festival has already sent invitations, but the festival organizers have not decided what to do with the festivities until April 15.

AMC Theatres at Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort

Closure of Movie Theaters/Early Releases VOD:

As I have previously stated about the theatrical releases, the coronavirus negatively impacts the film. However, these releases also extend to movie theaters. Movie theaters started to close in January in China, and then the rest of the world as soon as COVID-19 became a worldwide pandemic. Theater chains such as Cinemark Theatres and Regal Cinemas have closed all of their theatres indefinitely, while AMC Theatres closed all of their theatres for 6 to 12 weeks (which started on March 17). However, drive-in movie theaters are still open and have regained popularity.

As of March, box office analysts say that the pandemic will profoundly affect the film industry more than what we have been going through; they predicted that film revenues will lose at least $5 billion (in U.S. dollars). For example, Disney and Pixar released Onward in March, and its opening weekend opened with about $39 million. As of today, the animated film has grossed $104 million worldwide. The underwhelming performance at the box office was significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic as it was released by the time it spread to become a scare for everyone.

So, with the pandemic going on, theatergoers cannot go into the movies to see the new releases. However, being quarantined at home means there is more time for us to binge-watch our favorite films and TV shows on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+, and Disney+. As for the new releases, studios have been releasing films that came out this year earlier than anticipated, especially those that just came out. Universal has decided that they would release digital rentals for The Invisible Man, The Hunt, Emma. And Trolls: World Tour, the latter one will be released in theaters and digital rental simultaneously. Paramount pulled The Lovebirds off the schedule for a Netflix release, and Warner Bros. released Birds of Prey for digital release. Disney’s Frozen II, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and Onward started to stream on Disney+ early.

Depictions of Pandemic Outbreak:

We can start watching movies and TV series that deal with pandemic outbreaks. Some of us are scared to even think about watching something that deals with similar events we are going through. But, those who are brave enough to watch them might give us educational details about an illness impacting our lives. Films that depict pandemics include Contagion, Outbreak, The Andromeda Strain, 12 Monkeys, 28 Days Later, World War Z, I Am Legend, and the Planet of the Apes franchise. While most of the films I imagine are fictional, Contagion is probably the most realistic film when taking on the subject of viral pandemics.

There are not many series about pandemics on television as in the film. However, one project I cannot ignore is the 1994 TV miniseries based on Stephen King’s novel The Stand. Both the book and miniseries give us an idea of what would happen if an incurable disease kills off 99% of the world’s population. CBS is currently filming another adaptation of King’s novel.

My Thoughts:

Clearly, this is something we have never seen before, and it is affecting the industry and everyone, including myself. Obviously, I am currently at home, and I am trying to cope with this pandemic. While I am taking this time to tell you everything I know about what is going on, I am also taking this time to watch many movies. There were a lot of movies I was planning to watch in the theaters before it all went to s**t. Some more than others. For example, The New Mutants was initially supposed to come out back in April 2018 before delaying it to February 2019 and August 2019 for reshoots (which never happened), again to April 3, 2020, because Disney acquired Fox, and again due to COVID-19 (this time indefinitely). This movie is cursed! And I feel so bad for everyone involved in it. I have been looking forward to other films that were supposed to come out for over a month, including A Quiet Place Part II, Mulan (2020), No Time to Die, and Black Widow.

I would consider myself a movie-goer; I love going to the movie theater to watch new movies and experiences, even if most of them were with my dad. I always love walking into the theater ready to watch a film with some popcorn, drink, and sometimes candy to enjoy the experience of watching a movie with everyone else. For some of us, movie theaters are every film lovers’ church. But, not everybody feels that way. Apparently, neither is COVID-19.

And with the ongoing spread, streaming services and digital media is continuously making an impact in the industry. With the recently released films now going straight to digital service to pass the time, there are opinions on whether or not some suspended films should be removed from our homes. There were rumors that both Mulan (2020) and Black Widow were canceling their theatrical releases for a Disney+ release instead. This turns out to be false rumors. In my opinion, I cannot imagine watching a film like Mulan (2020), Black Widow, or Tenet for the first time on a computer or a TV screen; there are plenty of movies that should be seen on the most giant screen possible. This is an extension of the movie-going experience. I still have a complicated relationship with seeing a movie at the theater and digitally released movies, but that could talk about in another blog.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on everything that is going on.

What Happens Now?:

With the spread continuing to grow with more stay-at-home orders and all non-essential businesses temporarily closed, it is only a matter of time before things go back to normal. But I want everyone to know I’m just as concerned about your illness. And I hope everyone is doing alright at home, making sure that you are not entirely bored (like myself), and I hope that everyone is watching a lot of movies and TV shows. And I hope everything will go back to normal as soon as possible.

Thank you, everyone, for sharing this with me. And remember to wash your hands often, don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth, and please stay safe.

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