Action-packed thrillers, mind-boggling mysteries, and heated romances have captivated and entertained viewers for decades. With the COVID-19 pandemic closing businesses and schools across the nation, students and workers alike have turned to movies as a source of entertainment and comfort during these troubling times. Though streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu are still viable options during the stay at home order, the movie industry as a whole is suffering and may be irrevocably changed in the coming future, for the better or worse.
As theatres close nationwide, the exhibition of multiple movies has come to a screeching halt. Though films such as No Time to Die and Fast and Furious 9 are ready for viewers, these multi-million dollar productions along with the theaters responsible for their release will not earn a single penny until said theatres start to reopen.
The film industry is dependent on timely production, fast distribution, and a grand, far-reaching exhibition. If one part of this process is disrupted, the industry as a whole goes underwater.
“The same Wednesday in 2019 recorded almost $11m in ticket sales while last Wednesday’s box office was $7.7 million, according to Comscore. ” The Hollywood Reporter suggests ‘analysts say $300,000 is no doubt the lowest number in modern history for a single weekday,’ according to The Guardian.
Because of the predicted longevity of an altered lifestyle, the film industry is currently exploring different forms of an exhibition for the various movies viewers are now anticipating more than ever.
According to The Week, NBC Universal will be releasing films such as The Invisible Man for on-demand streaming, dramatically shortening the theatrical window (the period between a film’s theatrical release date and its DVD or VHS rental release date). Further, some movies, such as Artemis Fowl, will not be airing in theatres; instead, they are sticking to predetermined release dates by debuting on streaming services such as Disney Plus.
Though this may be a quick fix for the drowning movie industry, these methods can have long term consequences. By releasing certain films on streaming services, theaters will no longer be able to show these movies due to expected low turnout. Additionally, because of the shift in distribution, studios will have little reason to immediately resume old methods once possible, making it harder for theatres to regain lost business.
“This will hit the accelerator on the shift to streaming and most of the global exhibition business will be in bankruptcy by the end of the year,” said Rich Greenfield of research firm LightShed Partners in an interview with The New York Times.
Though watching the latest movies from the comfort of home is unarguably convenient, the experience of a ninety-foot by thirty-foot screen is irreplaceable. For now, theaters are doing their best to weather through the storm, but once they reopen, it is the viewers’ job to resist the temptation of a comfy sofa and instead buy a ticket. Businesses worldwide will be forever affected by COVID-19; if a complete return to normal is impossible, hopefully, a partial one is.