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Coronavirus: How It’s Affected The Film Industry

March 25, 2020
Cinema screen

Right now it seems that Covid-19 has affected just about every aspect of our lives. With more extreme measures being introduced every day, every industry is taking big hits. Many are temporarily shutting down completely during the pandemic. The film industry especially has seen major disruption. While a lot of the effects may not truly be revealed until after the pandemic, here are some of the more immediate results.

Releases Delayed

James Bond
Bond has some extra time to die on his hands now (MGM, 2020)

In an effort to stop the spread of the virus, people were advised against attending large gatherings, such as concerts and weddings, with many being cancelled or postponed until a later date.

The 007 Franchise is one of the biggest, with the latest instalment carrying lots of positive behind the scenes buzz. In addition, it will also be the swansong for Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond. Originally scheduled to release on April 2nd, and at the height of marketing, with the title theme released and press tour about to begin. It will now release in November, a whole eight months later, in light of the Coronavirus situation.

Bond was arguably the biggest release of the summer, but it was shortly followed by several others, including Mulan, Peter Rabbit 2, A Quiet Place 2, Black Widow and ironically Fast 9, as well as some smaller releases.

Perhaps one of the biggest casualties is The New Mutants, which has now been delayed four times, from its original date of April 13th, 2018. Currently, there is no release date, like most of the delayed films, although it could still happen this year.

Productions Stopped

Skydance 2020 Movie
A deadly virus that will affect millions on a global scale seems like something Ethan Hunt and the IMF should have dealt with (Skydance, 2020)

In addition to completed films having their releases delayed, films and many tv shows, are halting production, films like Matt Reeves’ “The Batman”, “Mission Impossible 7” “Jurassic World: Dominion” “The Matrix 4” and the third instalment in the Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts” series have all suspended production..This is all done for the health of cast and crew as well as an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

While these delays are understandable, they will likely have knock-on effects. While many of these films are not due for release until next year at the earliest, depending on how long this situation goes on for, this could result in some of, if not all, these films being delayed due to the new timetable.

Film release windows are a delicate science, with studios needing to consider potential competition, as well as the target audience and other factors when releasing a film, so some of these films could have severe delays, such as Fast 9 being delayed by a full year.

Festivals Cancelled

Cannes Film Festival
Could Cannes be Canneclled? (THR,2020)

As part of cancelling large gatherings, many film festivals have been cancelled, including SXSW. This is a major blow to countless independent and smaller budget films that count on the exposure gained from these festivals to get distribution. Cannes is working on a backup plan, a “virtual marketplace” where films can be screened, and presentations from filmmakers. It would also allow for video meetings, for deals to be hashed out and more.

New Releases Streaming

The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man is just one of several new releases that are available on demand during their theatrical run (Universal, 2020)

With most cinemas closed, the few films that are releasing aren’t bringing in big numbers at the box office. As a result, several studios, like Universal, have released their films online, with some on the same day as they are released in theatres. Frozen 2 and (soon) Onward can also be found on Disney+. While this is a simple and effective solution to the current isolation measures put in place, it does bring into question the future of cinemas and new releases. Traditionally there is a gap of several months between a theatrical release and a film being available on demand. With these extenuating circumstances, this “rule” no longer applies. Christopher Nolan recently wrote a letter in defence of cinemas.

It remains to be seen what kind of effect this will have on digital releases in the future. Jason Blum predicts that there will be a change after the pandemic has subsided, with fewer films being given theatrical releases or having shorter runs in theatres. Netflix has encountered this problem, giving The Irishman a short stint in cinemas upon its release in order to qualify for Oscar nominations. This could give streaming another leg up over cinema, if people can watch a new release at home or go to the cinema, which would they choose?

Hopefully, cinemas will still be around for a long time yet after this crisis is over, even if we might have to wait a little longer for some of this year’s big releases.

Also Read: The Simpsons’ Obsession With Films

More: Coronavirus: How It’s Affected the Film Industry (Part 2)

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