Since the coronavirus found its way into the United States earlier this year, no industry has been left untouched. Uncertainty surrounding the virus has affected everyone, from business leaders to the finance sector to the entertainment industry.
Hollywood has already postponed some of its major spring releases, like A Quiet Place Part II and No Time to Die, that were expected to attract large crowds of viewers and pull significant profits. But that would be impossible, as movie theaters across the nation still haven’t gotten the go-ahead to fully reopen. Even the summer box office has been delayed by up to two months. What fate can these theaters expect, and when will moviegoers be able to resume their usual lifestyle again? It really depends. Smaller movie chains have already begun reopening in phases, but larger cinemas are holding off until at least mid to late-summer.
But that doesn’t mean the entire industry is on hold. Some production companies are choosing to make certain movies digitally available to consumers in lieu of continually pushing back their release dates. Some companies have even chosen to temporarily stop production dead in its tracks. Netflix, for example, took a two-week hiatus from all of its scripted TV shows and movies. Warner Bros. also announced its suspension of over 70 shows in various stages of development.
Beyond just production and release dates, a lot of these initiatives are also in response to COVID-19’s impact on the health of industry employees. The Motion Picture Association estimates that there are almost 900,000 employees employed by the film and TV industry. A significant portion of those employees have been laid off because of the coronavirus, from movie theater ushers to actors to directors to makeup artists. While many aren’t sure when they’ll be able to start working again, production companies also know it’s a necessary measure to ensure the safety of their employees.
In spite of all of this, streaming services like Netflix are seeing an uptick in signups and user activity. There have been whispers of people wondering if the future of the entertainment industry was always destined for digital-only streaming platforms, which has been a conversation that has only been amplified by the pandemic, but coronavirus isn’t going to dissolve the moviegoing experience.
Yes, it’s shaking the industry up a bit, but it only means that media junkies just be patient as film studios just figure out their production and release calendars. The movies you’ve been excited to see in theaters aren’t going to disappear. The Batman, The Many Saints of Newark, and Mulan are still going to be released, it’s just going to be either later in the year or early next year. Some release dates for films like Wonder Woman and Tenet remain unchanged.
The entertainment industry will survive the global pandemic, but its impacts may change what we’ve known the entertainment industry to be for so long. There might be a shift to more digital services, or perhaps the moviegoing experience might evolve for the extended future to continue protecting the safety of society. These changes shouldn’t be of concern, but more a reason for excitement.