Coronavirus’ Impact On the Film Industry

So everyone is now well aware of the COVID-19 (aka the coronavirus), and it’s this fear that is affecting not just our lives but everything around us. 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 self quarantining themselves for a while. This fear is scaring everyone 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 of 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 feel like I need to get this off my chest. From delays of film releases to postponement of movie projects to the closing of movie theaters, let me breakdown how COVID-19 is causing an impact in the film industry.

Delayed Film Releases:

The postponement of movie releases started back in January, where the China film industry announced that they are delaying their films due to the early stages of COVID-19. Then the spread becomes a global pandemic and nearly every major blockbuster set for release starting in March to at least May have 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 have an effect on box office sales. (But more on that later.)

Suspended Productions:

It’s not just films being released this year; there are also movies that are currently in production or have yet to start production, but have been suspended due to the outbreak. Suspended productions include The Batman, the Avatar sequels, Mission: Impossible 7, The Matrix 4, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Jurassic World: Dominion, and many more. The Elvis Presley biopic also suspended its production after Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were tested positive for COVID-19. Delayed productions 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. Depending on how long before the coronavirus situation is resolved, some of these movies might affect the release dates of these upcoming films as well.

Cancelled Award Shows/Festivals:

There is also a number of award shows and festivals that have either been postponed or cancelled. While two awards ceremonies around the world did take place 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 originally scheduled to be held but was ultimately cancelled after they failed to keep the space it was going to take place in. 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 festivals that was postponed, while the South By Southwest Festival was cancelled due to the coronavirus spread. The 2020 Cannes Film Festival have already sent invitations, but the festival organizers have not made the decision on 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 is taking a negative impact on film. However, these releases also extends 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 theaters indefinitely, while AMC Theatres closed all of their theatres for 6 to 12 weeks (which started back on March 17). However, drive-in movie theaters are still open and have regained popularity.

As of March, box office analysts say that due to the pandemic, it will deeply 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 back in March 6 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 the pandemic going on, theater goers cannot go into the movies to see the new releases. However, being quarantined at home means there is more time for all of 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 the ones that just came out. Universal have 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. release Birds of Prey for digital release. Disney released Frozen II to stream on Disney+ three months earlier than anticipated, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to digital release four days early, and Onward is available for digital release two weeks after the film’s theatrical release, with a streaming release on Disney+ for another two weeks. Depending on how long this will go on, we are starting to have to get used to the idea of watching these videos on demand for a while.

The Depictions of Pandemic Outbreak:

Giving us the time to watch a lot of movies during a pandemic is also a time where we can watch movies and TV series that deals with pandemic outbreaks. Some of us are scared to even think about watching something that deals with similar events that we are going through right now. But, those who are brave enough to watch them might give us educational details about an illness that is impacting our lives. Films that depicts 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 the probably the most realistic film when taking on the subject of viral pandemics.

On television, there is not a lot of series about pandemics as there is in film. However, one project I cannot ignore is the 1994 TV miniseries based on Stephen King’s novel The Stand. Both the novel and miniseries gives us an idea on 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. Right now, I am currently at home, obviously, and I am trying to cope with this pandemic. While I am taking this time telling you everything I know about what is going on, I am also taking this time to watch a lot of 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 originally 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 of Disney’s acquisition of Fox, and again due to COVID-19 (this time indefinitely). This movie is cursed! And I feel so bad for everyone involved in it. Other films that were supposed to come out for over a month that I have been looking forward to include A Quiet Place Part II, Mulan (2020), No Time to Die, and Black Widow.

I would consider myself as 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 film 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 released to our homes. There were rumors that both Mulan (2020) and Black Widow were cancelling 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 films that should be seen on the biggest screen possible. This is an extension on the movie going experience. I still have a complicated relationship with seeing a film at the theater and digitally released films, but that could talked 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 the illness as much as you. And I wish everyone is doing alright at home, making sure that you not completely 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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