Coronavirus Infects Film Industry

Thousands+of+theaters+across+the+country+have+closed%2C+like+this+one+in+Minneapolis+which+reminds+passers-by+to+be+hygienic.

Photo courtesy of https://www.usnews.com.

Thousands of theaters across the country have closed, like this one in Minneapolis which reminds passers-by to be hygienic.

Who doesn’t love the feeling of finally seeing a movie they’ve been waiting so long to see? What makes it even better is being able to see it in the theater with a huge bucket of popcorn and your favorite beverage. Many movies were scheduled to come out this year, but, due to the coronavirus pandemic, those plans were suddenly interrupted. As COVID-19 was creeping around the corner, movie studios and production companies had to make an important decision: postpone movie production and the theatrical release dates, or send their films to fans via streaming networks such as Netflix and Amazon. 

A movie that I have been looking forward to seeing in theaters is Top Gun 2,” said sixth grader RJ Pierman. “I am kind of upset that the movie is not being released on a free streaming source, but I know it is the right decision.”

Many studios feel releasing movies straight to streaming services so consumers can watch films from the comfort of their own homes would not allow the studios to make as much profit. This is because they make most of their money from people buying tickets at theaters. Many studios have instead pushed back the release dates so they can still make the big bucks at the box office. 

“I think the new release date [for Top Gun 2,] is a bit too far away because the original release date was June 26, 2020,” said Pierman, “The new release date is now December 23, 2020. I am a little bit upset that it is that far away, and I think the producers should not have to wait that long to release the movie,” he said. 

However, studio executives know releasing film in theaters translates to more money. For example, Avengers:Endgame became the all-time box office champ last summer as it raked in $2.798 billion dollars in theaters. 

Photo courtesy of https://www.marvel.com.
Marvel’s Black Widow prequel was supposed to kick off the summer movie season, but the film has now been pushed to November 6, 2020.

“The scramble to switch release dates for movies and TV programs will cost millions in global marketing and promotional dollars,” according to film industry publication variety.com.

Along with Top Gun 2, there are many other movies that were scheduled to be released in mid or late 2020 that are now debuting in theaters later in the year, or, in some cases, even next year. Mulan, originally set to be released on March 27, 2020, is now being released on July 24, 2020. The much-anticipated horror/thriller sequel A Quiet Place II went from March 20, 2020 to September 4, 2020, and Black Widow, the next Marvel movie, was pushed from May 1 to November 6. Minions: The Rise of Gru was scheduled for release on July 3, 2020, but now is coming out on July 2, 2021.

Many fans, like Pierman, are upset about the date changes, seeing that the movies they wanted to see will now be released in late 2020 or even 2021. 

“Personally, I’m upset because with the movies coming out [later] [because] I [don’t] have things to watch if I [am] bored,” said eighth grader Bella Baker. “However, I think that it was the best decision to wait because more people would be waiting to see the movie. Now, when theaters open back up, there will be lines of people with sold-out tickets and it will benefit the movie and help it make money,” she said. 

However, not all studios are following this model. For example, Disney’s animated film Onward was first released on March 6, but, sadly, had to be taken out of theaters on April 3 because theaters were closing due to the pandemic. As a result, it landed on Disney+ so those who had not bought tickets yet, but had Disney’s streaming platform, could enjoy it from home.  

Photo courtesy of https://www.androidcentral.com.
“Trolls World Tour” had success skipping the theaters and going straight to streaming services.

Some movies, such as Universal’s Trolls World Tour, have been exclusively moved to a streaming service where they are currently able to be rented or bought. Trolls World Tour has made nearly $100 million since it’s initial release on April 10 across several streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, etc. This film may have proven that studios can still make big bucks without having to go through the traditional theater chains, but the fact that the film has done so well has made certain distributors angry. Regal and AMC theaters have severed ties with Universal for the time being, refusing to distribute any more of Universal’s film because the studio opted to stream Trolls World Tour instead of postponing its theatrical release date. “

“Regal’s owner, Cineworld, argued that it doesn’t make economic sense for the company to show movies that fail to respect the theatrical windows,” according to an article on usatoday.com

COVID-19 has impacted our lives in many ways in the past few months. Having to miss going to the movies is yet another sacrifice we must make to flatten the virus’s curve. However, our community is holding tight and many are looking forward to the day when we can return to the theaters. Until then, we can watch reruns of Stranger Things and The Office. Hey – it’s better than nothing.