2020 has been a rough year, and one area in particular that is feeling the impact of the pandemic is the film industry. Earlier this year, theaters across the world began shutting their doors forcing studios to either delay their films, or to find alternative ways of releasing them. We began seeing studios sell their films to streaming services or skipping the theatrical release by dropping their films on streaming with a premium price of around $20.
When the shut-down began, we were led to believe that it would only last for a few short months with everything returning back to normal around June or July. However, as the months ran on and theaters kept pushing back their reopening dates, more movies began getting delayed, or pushed to streaming services. Once theaters began to reopen in August, things didn’t go as planned. Theaters started showing older films with a few new releases, such as Unhinged. However, they could only use the novelty of having films like The Empire Strikes Back and Back to the Future on the big screen for so long. To stay afloat, theaters had to get new and big films in theaters once again.
Effect of Tenet and The New Mutants
With the disappointing box office numbers for The New Mutants and Tenet, we’ve seen major films like Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow, and West Side Story get delayed even further. This means that the next major film release won’t be until Nov. 20 with Soul and No Time to Die, unless these films get delayed again. Since there aren’t any major films to release, we may see theaters close their doors again, even though the rest of the world has begun to reopen. Due to the disappointing box office, which caused studios to delay their films once again, theaters won’t be able to support themselves on screening Tenet, New Mutants, and classic films. As said by the president of NATO (National Association of Theater Owners), theaters need blockbusters to survive, and without any new ones coming out for a while, they may need to close once again.
Effects of theaters closing
Since theaters are already in a tough position after being closed for so long, and now possibly having to close once again, we may see some theaters never reopen. If theaters do close for good, we will see the ripple effect throughout the industry. Gone will be the days of major blockbuster films like Joker, Tenet, and Jumanji: The Next Level. We won’t see franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, or Fast and Furious continue as we’ve seen them expand among the years. Movies like these depend on the theatrical experience, and won’t be able to sustain themselves on streaming alone. Possibly, blockbuster films could continue on streaming services like Netflix or HBOMax, but it won’t be to the same quantity, or quality, that we have become familiarized with. And since studios depend on blockbusters fueling them, this won’t allow them to finance smaller and more prestigious films.
How this changes things moving forward
Even with films like The Batman, Jurassic World: Dominion, Avatar 2, and Scream 5 back in production, the contents of movies will change, at least for the time being. For example, we will see less scenes in movies that have large crowds and the location for films will become increasingly limited. The cast and crew behind these films will also become limited as studios won’t be able to gather hundreds of people together to make these films. Since they won’t be able to have as many people on set, storytellers will have to come up with creative ways to achieve their vision with their limited resources. In front of the camera, we won’t get to see countless extras walking around in the background of shots. Behind the camera, filmmakers will also have to deal with limited crew members at their disposal.
We’ve already seen that major studio films that have returned to production have had to alter the way they film. For example, the Jurassic World: Dominion production has increased their safety protocols by adding a 107-page safety manual. These enhanced safety protocols have included COVID testing all cast and crew before anyone enters the set and having actors do more of their own preparation before shooting, such as setting up their own microphones. The production for Jurassic World has also divided their limited production team into two, in order to limit those on set even more.
No matter what the future of the film industry looks like, it’s safe to say that things will likely never go back to how they were before. From how films are made, to how they are distributed, our viewing experience for films has been greatly altered. Depending on how things shake out in the future, whether or not studios keep their films in theaters or bump them, we will not get the same blockbusters that we have become accustomed to. With indie films also being changed, It is safe to say that the world of movies will never be the same.
Featured Image: Kellyn Harrison