Coronavirus has restricted and restructured a lot of things in our lives: postponing any nonessential travel, more online shopping, virtual school and virtual work, and social distanced socializing. It has also affected the way we receive entertainment, forcing our favorite show and movie release dates to be pushed back or even being out right canceled. The 5-month filming and production halt has forever changed the dynamic of Hollywood. Not only are they forced to have virtual pre- and post-productions meetings, but they are also struggling to access a strong enough bandwidth to work and edit from home. Large files, such as high-definition audio and video, can cause computers to freeze or crash often, says an article put out by fortune.com.
In order to restart shooting anything in Hollywood, an entire new set of rules and restrictions were put into place. Departments were split into pods and have specific places they are allowed to be in at specific times. This is largely diminishing cross department collaboration; wardrobe cannot be on set with the lighting department who can’t be around the set with the design department. There are COVID safety officers on set to make sure employees are being safe and following all precautions while filming. They are also requiring everyone on set to take a coronavirus test up to 3 times a week, NBC reported. These production companies are having to be strategic about which projects they are choosing to work on, opting for smaller ones at this time. This is also largely going to affect independently filmed movies, which require having some sort of insurance in place before production but now, no insurance covers COVID-19 and no company wants to finance a project without insurance, as reported in the Washington Post.
Not only is the production side of Hollywood struggling to get back on its feet but theaters across the Nation are still being affected by the COVID-19 restrictions, with some still not fully opened back up since the initial lock down in March. We have seen some interesting tactics from these theaters in an attempt to stay open, such as allowing you to rent out your own personal theater for you and your friends and pick which movie you wish to watch instead of showing new releases which would draw large numbers. AMC theaters, a 100-year-old company, has reported their worse quarter yet with a loss of $561 million since they closed their doors back mid-march. Now more than ever, people are streaming their entertainment.
Walt Disney reports that their third quarter earnings will be a loss of $4.72 billion and quarter four will be a loss of $0.7 billion. Their second quarter was able to remain on the positive side which they attributed to the success of their new streaming service, Disney +, which has all of their movies, shows, and shorts on it. They have accumulated 75 million subscribers in their first year which was not predicted for them until 2022. Disney believes that is due to the timing of the lockdown with the release of their service.
The Oscars are looking to change their requirements for the next award ceremony, stating that they normally require a nominated movie to play at a theater in Los Angeles for 7 consecutive days but due to that being impossible for more than half the year, they are dropping that requirement. Because of this, we will likely see Oscar nominated movies that were only watchable from streaming services this year.
Adding on to the new ways we are seeing our entertainment, virtual reunions of old casts from some of the best shows and movies have become more and more common. Late night talk shows have gone virtual and are being filmed in the star’s own homes and the famous comedy show Saturday Night Live is all being done from home as well.
Overall, we have seen a large change in the entertainment industry’s dynamics, but we are going to feel the effects for way longer than expected. Hopefully the new safety tactics put in place will help Hollywood survive another wave and potential lockdown. The cultural impact we’ve already experienced goes to show just how vital the entertainment industry is to our nation’s identity and economy.