Juliana Zeller ’24, Staff Writer

Source: Film Thrills

After watching news coverage of the election for weeks with bated breath, America will eventually begin to sit back and look forward to more entertaining pictures to view. While the ever growing list of streaming services are readily available for this purpose, driving to the movie theatre is no longer a completely viable option. Many theaters have been allowed to reopen, but they are unable to provide a vast selection of new movies as they once could. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in March, the movie industry has taken a large hit in productivity, and still does not have a clear path to recovery. Despite safety precautions and restrictions, the cinemas that are slowly beginning to open again remain empty, and many blockbuster movies scheduled for release in 2020 have been moved until 2021.

            The beginning of the pandemic saw a rise in the number of drive-in movie theaters. While this began to revitalize a stagnant industry, it quickly came to a more permanent intermission with harsher and more complete shutdowns. With no theaters to sit in or drive into, movie fans flocked to streaming networks such as Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+. Due to the lockdowns in cinemas and in Hollywood itself, a majority of movie productions have been forced to halt and have chosen to move their release dates. Big blockbuster films such as Stephen Spielburg’s West Side Story and science fiction adaptation Dune have delayed release an entire year, while others such as the latest James Bond movie, No Time to Die, were postponed a few months. Once again, streaming networks delivered the entertainment of many other films previously scheduled to release in theater, such as Artemis Fowl, Clouds, Enola Holmes, and more, by allowing release on their platforms.

            The release of films was not the only aspect of the industry impacted by the coronavirus, however, as many theaters are struggling to hold on as customers slowly trickle back in. Mookey Greidinger, boss of Cineworld, stated that cinemas would have to be at least half full to survive financially. Along with this, many production companies are, according to Philip Knatchbull, “hurting enormously” and “losing I don’t know how much a week.” These companies now have to decide where to make budget cuts and other adjustments, potentially resulting in less projects created per year. This could, in turn, result in less movies appearing in cinemas each year.

            Despite the major setbacks and unclear procedures moving forward, multiple plans have been in discussion to revitalize the movie making and viewing industry. One of the most prominent strategies is the “day and date” course of action, in which films would be released in theaters and on online streaming platforms on the same day. The price of the movie on the streaming network would be higher than that in the theater, allowing for the films themselves to gain more profit. Another means of “saving” theaters would be for prominent streaming platforms, such as Netflix or Amazon, to buy the closing cinemas. Essentially, the theaters would operate as normal, just under different management. Viewers would most likely be unaffected by this switch, however, big cinema chains would be largely impacted.

Despite these drastic changes to the industry, there is still a chance that movie theaters will be able to operate again as normal, once the virus is under control. Potentially, business could increase due to the vast array of movies scheduled to be released in the next few years, along with a more driven audience. While the future experience of leaving the house, buying popcorn, watching movies on the big screen, and experiencing the magic of cinemas remains up in the air, movie production continues, providing a healthy dose of anticipation to weary citizens across the nation.