The Coronavirus halts film productions and leaves the Academy short of Oscar nominees
Wait what?!?! Well seeing as every major film seems to be being pushed back at the moment, cinemas are being closed across Europe, production being halted on movies currently filming due to the Corona virus outbreak and no end in sight the absolute worst-case scenario could be that our cinematic experience for 2021 has peaked already a little over two months into the year. With Big blockbusters like 007: No Time to Die (pushed back to November), Fast 9 (pushed back eleven months to next year) and Disney’s live action remake of Mulan (pushed back indefinitely) disappearing off the short-term release calendar cinema goers are genuinely concerned about the short and medium term future of the industry.
Even ‘lesser’ films like New Mutants (probably the most cursed film production in history having been completed for over two years but having been pushed back four times for a myriad of reasons) and A Quiet Place 2 (pushed back indefinitely only a week before it was due to be released) have been moved further down the release schedule. Concerns are growing as to if we will have to wait even longer for upcoming blockbusters like Marvel’s Black Widow and DC’s Wonder Woman 1984 (due for release in May and June respectively and, as of writing this piece, still scheduled for release in their original date slots). These are unprecedented times for cinema and, with the Corona virus outbreak predicted to get worse before it gets better, some are questioning how big an impact this will have on the industry and consumers.
Italy, France and Spain have closed all non-essential buildings including cinemas in an attempt to combat the spread of the virus. The UK government is this week expected to ban mass gatherings of people but fall short of closing non-essential buildings which means cinemas should remain open at least in the short term.
The UK Cinema Association, which represents the interests of well over 90% of UK cinema operators, has said that the Corona virus outbreak should not prevent people from going to the cinema. However, the organisation warned: “The decision by a number of US studios to delay the release of several of their upcoming major films presents an unprecedented challenge to many UK cinemas, and is something which may genuinely call into question the survival of a number of sites.” UK cinema chain Showcase has emailed customers confirming that they will be reducing their auditorium capacity by 50% to allow customers space between seats.
Of course cinemas need new content to keep people coming through the doors and if there is no new content being delivered or the government takes the option out of consumers hands by closing cinemas then the industry will take a hit. There has been a suggestion that studios should allow films to be released on their streaming services to take advantage of more people being at home but industry insiders have said that this is not a viable strategy for the biggest films as the revenue obtained from streaming subscriptions pale in comparison to those of box office revenues. Whilst there is a chance that some smaller films may be released on these streaming platforms don’t expect a big box office film to appear there before being released in cinemas.
It is more financially prudent for cinemas to delay a film and release it to a bigger global cinematic audience than it is to take the financial hit of releasing it to consumers directly. Current conditions also let us look with perspective at prior films released this year. For example Birds of Prey, looked at as a commercial failure, is actually the fourth highest grossing film of the year and may end it as the highest grossing comic book film of 2021 depending on what restrictions may be placed on cinemas and what other films will be delayed. Not bad all things considered.
So, what next? Well streaming services are primed to benefit as a result of more people being housebound with hours of content available. So many films and TV series have been released over the months and there is probably a lot to catch up with on people’s watch lists. Now is as good a time as any to finally watch that series you were supposed to when it was first released but never got round to. You can also discover new content. We will be suggesting and reviewing films and series available to you on these services over the coming weeks and months, both new releases and older ones that you may have missed but are definitely worth watching. So, keep it locked on We Talk Film for all your viewing needs.