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How Has the Film Industry Coped With COVID-19?

October 12, 2020

The cinema industry faced another devastating blow recently as it was revealed that Cineworld would be closing, affecting up to 45,000 jobs. 

Another delayed release of the new James Bond film, No Time to Die, was said to be the catalyst for the firm’s decision. After re-opening on 4th July, UK cinemas faced a difficult summer – with some visitors claiming they were “outnumbered by popcorn sellers”. 

So, what is the knock-on effect on the film industry as a whole? 

Blockbusters move to the small screen 

While Christopher Nolan’s latest release, Tenet, marked the re-opening of UK cinemas, other filmmakers changed tack. Many instead chose to opt for streaming services, including films like Disney’s live-action Mulan remake to Disney+ and Tom Hanks’ thriller Greyhound to Apple TV+. 

This approach has also been welcomed with open arms by the team at Netflix. The global streaming giant announced in March that it would offer a $100 million relief fund for out-of-work creatives. Additionally, the service was keen to get back to filming, with production on foreign language series taking place in June.

However, to make up for the lost production time, Netflix has acquired the rights to many boxsets, such as Cobra Kai. New film titles are also appearing, such as The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run, and The Trial of the Chicago 7.

Likewise, Netflix is using content like user-generated footage to produce documentaries, including American Murder: The Family Next Door.

Amazon will also join the ranks later this year. Satirical comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, following the success of Who Is America?, is now reviving his Borat character for the small screen. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm will come to Amazon Prime in late October. Rather than skirting around the coronavirus, it pokes fun at the pandemic and mocks US political campaign trails.

Biding their time

While some filmmakers may want to capitalise on this new stay-at-home culture, others are waiting to release their content onto the big screen. The aforementioned James Bond flick is now scheduled for 2nd April 2021, the second new release date since it was pushed back to November 2020.

Meanwhile, the long-awaited Top Gun sequel will move to July 2021, 11 months after the original proposed date, while the Avatar sequel has pushed its 2021 release back to 2022.

Which strategy is best for the film industry?

If we’re to look at the commercial success of Trolls World Tour, it seems a straight to streaming model is the best way to go for modern-day cinema. The kids’ favourite managed to make 10 times NBCUniversal’s next biggest opening day digital release, raking in $100 million. It was available as an on-demand film, charged at £15.99 to watch on Amazon Prime, Google Play or YouTube.

Meanwhile, Tenet, which cost approximately $200 million to make, only broke even at the box office. Though circumstances are not normal, that was quite a crushing blow to Nolan, considering his biggest hit, The Dark Knight Rises, made an astonishing $1.1 billion.

Taking the cinema experience home

While we may have to wait to see some of the most highly anticipated releases hit the big screens, we can recreate the experience at home. At SONA, we can offer tips on how to make the most of a spare room with a media centre, or go large with your very own home cinema installation.

Crystal clear graphics and thundering sound are just two of the pros – plus subtle speakers and screen integrations that don’t look out of place. What’s more, with so much content to choose from on streaming services, there’s no reason why we cannot recreate the experience in lockdown.

Speak to the SONA team today about your dream home cinema project.