The release of the much-awaited blockbuster “No Time to die” has been delayed again, this time till April, 2021. We live in unprecedented times like never before. The coronavirus pandemic has affected every single aspect of our lives. Award shows, film festivals, and exhibitions have all been delayed or rescheduled this year. Each business and industry suffered from virus spread and social distancing restrictions. The Global film industry that much relies on theatrical movie releases has seen a near shut-down impact.
According to Statista.com, the global film industry has so far lost $ 10 billion in the first five months of the current year alone. The trend isn’t going to halt anytime sooner. Millions of people associated with the global film industry are on the verge of joblessness if the trends continue. Even with relaxed social distancing restrictions, restoring public confidence will take time and enormous efforts.
Did It All Begin With Covid-19?
Precisely we should ask how much revenue the film industry is losing due to covid-19 impacts. The traditional theatre and cinema bookings saw a steep decline in recent years even before the events of covid-19. Various factors like cinemagoers’ demand for better screens, ambiance, ticket prices, and time constraints played key roles in reduced theatre visitors. The prime impact came through video-on-demand and online streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube though.
Cinemagoers naturally shifted more towards the subscription based models. Permanent access to the content and video-on-demand features has attracted more customer base towards these platforms. In a sense, the global film industry has seen a surge in the shift of the user base that was already happening before the coronavirus pandemic.
The viewership shifting towards the smaller screen in the film and entertainment industry isn’t alone. The trends have significantly changed in other industries too like sports events have seen reduced gate money in recent years.
The Multi-Faceted Loss Due To Social Distancing:
It’s not only the theatrical move releases that slow down the industry revenue. All nodes of the global film industry have been affected by the catastrophic impacts of social distancing restrictions. The production for new movies has halted, putting millions of jobs on hold. Delayed movie premières, fewer promotions events, less marketing, and so on the declining circle of events continues.
Cinema owners, venue organizers, and multiplex investors were all in a fiercely competitive market due to streaming networks’ rising popularity. They’ll have to bear the brunt for a little while further at least. The customer shift towards other modes of movie streaming isn’t going to slow down, even with social distancing restrictions are waived.
Restoring Consumer Confidence:
Restoring consumer confidence with congested theatrical seating plans remains the biggest challenge for the film industry. It will not only impact ticket sales but make the viewer return to the gigantic movie screens again. People still show cautious signs of returning to public places and leisure events like cinemas amid the virus’s second wave fears. As more time passes by with closed theatres, the global films industry will lose more revenue to the streaming networks.
Impact of Streaming Networks on the Global Film Industry:
It may come with no surprises that we’ll see more movies being released on online streaming networks than in theatre. The time-lapse without cinema viewers has already established the new norms. An increasing number of people, especially the young lot are inclined towards smartphone screens.
Will we ever see the cinemas and theatres jam-packed for a movie release again? A certain yes for blockbusters and superhero movies, but what about other genres?
The consumer shift wasn’t initiated with compulsion, rather it all started with innovative technology. The viewership has tremendously shifted towards a smaller screen. People are inclined to the subscription and owned content more than ever.
Is it the Financial Remodeling?
It is early to predict that we’ll never see the theatre and cinema screens as regularly as in the past. The film industry can recover sales losses with a shift towards streaming networks like Apple and Netflix. Recently the movie Greyhound was released on Apple TV which awarded for $70 million copyrights. The revenue loss in the film industry isn’t just with the movie releases though. The global film industry connects several other industries like marketing.
Whether the industry goes through the complete transformation remains to be seen, but it certainly wouldn’t hold the trend longer. Consumers’ purchasing power and spending habits will change.
In March 2020 the world came to a standstill. What seemed to be a problem for only a few countries in Asia became a reality for Europe, America, and the whole world. The spread of the COVID virus forced us to stay in our homes and almost all industries to cease operations. Material losses have been uncountable, and one of the industries in which we can most appreciate the impact of COVID is in the cinema. Restaurants were forced to close. Also gyms, museums, malls, and basically anything that wasn’t a supermarket or a pharmacy. Movie theaters were among the first to be affected.
Films that were ready to be released had to be postponed, those that were in full production had to be frozen. The projects that were waiting to start being recorded were put on hold indefinitely. Today, thanks to vaccination and health protocols, movie theaters have reopened. Thanks to streaming services, movies like Black Widow and Mulan had a chance. Some big premieres may have been possible, like the long-awaited Dune and Daniel Craig’s last appearance as James Bond in No Time To Die.
However, we are a long way from returning to normalcy and the film industry is still suffering the consequences of the pandemic. These losses are expected to last at least four more years. Some wonder if in the post-COVID world we will see a representation of the pandemic in new films. Will we see actors with masks? Will stories developed in the middle of the pandemic be written?
The impact of the box office on the global film industry
In 2020 it was estimated that the film industry would raise around USD 44 billion. At the start of the pandemic in March, losses were predicted to be around $ 12 billion. Those numbers were a bit far from reality. The worldwide box office gross was $ 16.5 billion. The impact was much larger than expected.
Theaters have reopened, so everything will be back to normal, right? Not really.
Although in 2021 the theaters began to open their doors again, the attendance has been much lower than expected. Mainly due to capacity restrictions that vary from country to country. On the other hand, many people do not feel safe returning to closed and dark movie theaters.
In response to this, companies like Disney have used their streaming platforms to power their most affected projects. By paying for a Disney+ Pass, people were able to enjoy the premieres of Black Widow and Mulan, which were delayed because of the pandemic.
However, the losses are not only due to little or no attendance of people to the movie theater.
The studios lost millions of dollars by having to postpone and freeze their productions, in addition to rescheduling all future recordings. The impact of COVID on movies is estimated to last until 2025.
The Little Mermaid, Matrix 4, and the new installments of Jurassic World and Batman are some of the shoots that had to be paused. In addition to those, hundreds of television series will see the light of day much later than anticipated. But it was not only movie premieres that were affected, but also the biggest film festivals.
Until 2020, the Cannes Film Festival had never been canceled except for revolutions and world wars.
The last time was in 1968 when the protests and the economic recession in France forced the cancellation of the event. Before that, the Festival was canceled in 1939 with the outbreak of the Second World War until it was resumed in 1946.
On the other hand, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) recorded at least 120,000 layoffs of workers in Hollywood. Experts affirm that this event will have repercussions for the following years.
Will we see stories about COVID in the movies of the future?
Just as we have seen movies about historical events like world wars and natural disasters, will we see movies about the pandemic? It would not be absurd to think, since we are talking about one of the few world events that affected every one of the countries of the world. In an interview for Datebook, screenwriter Stewart Lindh was asked this very question.
“I do think that when the pandemic is over, people will want to forget about this weird period, and we won’t be seeing many masks in movies“
He adds that there will surely be particular films that portray stories about the pandemic and that we will surely see references to that time in the cinema. However, he adds that no one wants to see actors with their faces covered.
“Generally speaking, nobody wants to look at a masked actor. If I’m paying to see Jennifer Aniston, I expect eyes, nose, and mouth. Or I want two-thirds of my money back.”
So surely yes, we will see the occasional film or short where what we lived during the pandemic is portrayed in an artistic way.
But it does not seem to be something that becomes very common in the next films that will come out in the future. Confinement, masks, these are all things that we want to put in the past as soon as possible.
The viewership trends will lead to the reshaping global film industry future. It is almost certain that cinemas and theatres will see reduced viewership. Media companies and movie distributors will have to incentivize the loyalty of customers with innovative offers. Easing social distancing restrictions may resume the production and festival activities soon but the industry has already incurred heavy financial losses.