How Coronavirus has already changed the cinema industry

The 2020 blockbuster season has recorded some of the lowest numbers ever, as movie theatres worldwide have closed their doors, taking preventative measures to flatten the curve on the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Nationwide curfews and lockdowns have been implemented across the globe with both local and international film markets from China to Europe and all the way through to North America, being deeply affected. Highly anticipated movie’s like Disney’s live-action version of Mulan, Columbia Pictures’ sequel to Peter Rabbit, MGM’s No Time to Die and even Universal’s F9 have all been postponed (some delayed until next year).

However, one silver lining to the very grey cloud that COVID-19 (for everyone at home, of course), is the film industry’s reaction to the ongoing pandemic. As moviegoers worldwide continue to practice social distancing, distributors have started rolling out a few unprecedented measures of their own – releasing theatrical features on demand through streaming services.  NBCUniversal movie studios, Universal Pictures and Focus Features have all started releasing films in theatres and on-demand, simultaneously, ultimately eliminating the theatrical window but still making some extra bucks.

NBCUniversal’s CEO Jeff Shell, said in a statement: “Rather than delaying these films or releasing them into a challenging distribution landscape, we wanted to provide an option for people to view these titles in the home that is both accessible and affordable.”

Films such as The Hunt, The Invisible Man, and Emma have been made available on streaming services since 20th March, whilst Trolls: World Tour, will be available in theatres and on-demand from April 10.

Meanwhile, there’s no better time to binge your favourite Disney classics. Disney+ has finally launched within the UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland and is set to launch in France on April 7th. Disney are even offering access to the current Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and NatGeo catalogue with a free 7-day trial (and in case you’re wondering, a monthly subscription is £5.99 whilst an annual subscription is £59.99).

BFI and The Film and TV Charity have also joined forces; establishing an emergency relief fund to support the creative community affected by the COVID-19 crisis. With the help of Netflix’s £1million donation, the newly set-up emergency fund, will provide short-term relief to active workers and freelancers directly affected by the closure of productions across the television and film industry in the UK.

The Film and TV charity which was founded in 1924, has supported those employed behind the scenes in production, distribution and exhibitions since its formation and is currently determining the eligibility criteria and level of funding to disperse to displaced workers.

Alex Pumfrey, CEO of the charity, said: “The film and TV industry is now facing a huge threat. Many freelancers have seen their livelihoods disappear overnight. We’re entering a period of unprecedented isolation and worry for a workforce that we know from our research already suffers from poor mental health.”

So, as the pandemic continues to affect countries worldwide, there’s no doubt that cinemas and other non-essential public spaces will remain closed in adherence to country-specific social distancing measures.

But from here on out – will this change the way we watch cinematic releases forever? If so, we’re calling this one – the COVID effect.

Until then, sit tight, maintain good hygiene practices and just watch re-runs of your favourite movies until we’re all able to go outside again! What movies are on your list to watch on the big screen when the lockdown is finally lifted?


Author: Estelle

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