With so many people out of work and with time on their hands, you can bet that more people are turning to films and television shows to fill their spare time.
But sooner than we think, we’re going to run into a big problem. Because of COVID-19, there simply isn’t enough new content being produced.
Film productions are shut down. Actors are quarantining themselves. The hundreds of people it takes to produce a film cannot go near each other. Nothing is being made, and no one knows when this might change.
This unfortunately means Hollywood’s production pipeline, which has been clogged with projects these past few years, will soon be completely dry. For the most part, we are stuck with whatever movies we have.
Which isn’t to say that there aren’t new movies available. Thankfully, there are some ready-to-go features, thanks to the summer movie season which is historically filled with blockbuster releases.
However, the big film studios are still holding their breath, hoping and praying that things will go back to normal by Summer. The problem is that even if the lockdown is lifted, things will be anything but normal.
Some of the big budget films like Wonder Woman 1984, the new James Bond: No Time To Die, have been completed but are in limbo, depending on what happens with the pandemic.
The question then becomes in this new reality, whether Hollywood needs to further break its own business model and release more movies digitally rather than holding out hope for a theatrical premiere.
How long will the release of these films be mired in uncertainty, thus prolonging the studios return on their investment?
Is Hollywood Fighting A Dead System?
For decades, Hollywood has fought tooth and nail against any disruption to the gap between a movie’s release in theaters—and its availability on streaming. With COVID-19 now making traditional movie theaters a health risk, that resistance is fading fast, and numerous studios are quickly moving to make the entire idea of release windows irrelevant.
Film studios usually imposes a 90-day restriction on the amount of time a movie must run in theaters before it’s released on streaming services or video on demand.
But when companies like Netflix have tried to disrupt or even shorten these dated restrictions, they’ve been repeatedly punished for it. For example, the streaming service was banned from Cannes competition last year for avoiding traditional theaters.
While nothing can be done about the lockdown, the film studies can act now to push out their existing slates to fill in the gaps. But while Hollywood decides what to do, consumers are flocking to home streaming alternatives as they ride out the pandemic.
And while this shift will create very real hardships for theatres workers and filmmakers, whose livelihoods will be on the line, industry executives will likely mitigate some of the harm by embracing streaming – at least for the time being.
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