With the COVID-19 crisis putting a halt to nearly every aspect of life, films, of course, are also getting pushed back. Most movies set to come out this first half of the year have been delayed, and some films not even coming out in 2020 are also postponed. As we do not know how long the shelter-in-place will last, it is difficult to accurately predict how it will affect the film industry in the long-run.
Nearly every film set to release before this summer was pushed back, to either late summer or early fall. Many blockbusters with a large production have been pushed back all the way to November. Even films that were already planning to release this summer have been pushed back due to them having to halt production. The delaying of films has had a domino effect on series and franchises, such as Disney’s Marvel films. With each delay of a film release in a series, the next one must also be pushed back, creating a domino effect. This is one of the reasons why films are far forward as 2021 are getting pushed back to 2022.
These delays aren’t just because theaters are social gatherings, it’s because continuing the production of these films would mean risking spreading the coronavirus amongst the filmmakers, especially considering the traveling involved in shooting on location. If these films were already completed, then they would just be released online, which is what some few films are doing already. Some movies that were already finished have been made available for online rental. Films that were released shortly before the shelter-in-place was announced are already being made available on digital.
As social gatherings aren’t allowed and films are being delayed, theaters are being temporarily closed. Unlike businesses that provide food and other essentials, theaters will be unable to make any kind of profit. Chain theaters, like the Cinemark here in Walnut Creek, will survive, but locally owned small theaters will be struggling to survive. While theaters are struggling to stay in business, online streaming services have been thriving.
This all once again brings up the question: will streaming services completely replace theaters? Though this crisis may seem like the final kick to theaters, people will likely be very eager to return to theaters as soon as they can. It is difficult to accurately predict how this will affect theaters in the long-run, as we do not know how long this crisis will last. If this crisis is short-lived, then theaters will survive and then be met with a surge of ticket sales. But if this crisis is long-lived, then this may be the end to theaters. Like the rest of the world right now, everything feels as if it is on pause.