When the pandemic hit the world and it went under lockdown, every industry had to face an economic slowdown in one way or the other. The film industry also went through a lot of changes to cope up with the impacts of the lockdown. Let us take a look at four new changes in the film industry that the lockdown brought with itself:
The Year of Digital Entertainment
With the doors to theatres bolted up across the globe, the only way of entertainment open to people was through OTTs and digital platforms. Even before the huge theatre chains closed their venues due to lockdown regulations, OTT platforms had started to experience a steep increase in their subscribers.
The streaming giant Netflix has managed to surpass 200 million paid subscribers owing to an exponential increase in the number during the pandemic. Disney+, the fledgling streaming service of the entertainment titan Disney, also experienced a whopping increase in engagement and stood at 86.8 Million subscribers in early December 2020.
It is evident that the lockdown has made lasting impacts on people’s choices of film and entertainment. Even when the theatres started reopening, they failed to gather audiences for films like Tenet by Christopher Nolan.
Regular testing and the enforcement of quarantine have become the new normal on film and television sets as part of new health and safety protocols introduced to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The film production is delayed by a couple of weeks or more because of these health protocols, especially when one of the members of the production tests positive. These delays have affected the production of various projects from blockbuster films to long-running soap operas. Production costs have also puffed up because of the added requirements.
The most recent example of this is Jurassic World: Dominion. The production had to stop because a few members of the film crew tested positive. The production was delayed by two weeks because of the strict health and safety protocols that the film had in place. The delays due to the strict health and safety protocols came with a hefty price tag of about $3 million. To cover up for these revenue leakages, there are a lot of pragmatic and innovative ways that can avoid revenue leakages like this. A classic example could be considered from the IT industry where infusion of AI-based methodologies in sales order applications has unlocked significant revenues that weren’t released earlier.
Christopher Nolan’s Tenet was a much-awaited “would-be blockbuster” that underperformed even after being released at a time when lockdowns had been lifted from most countries. This happened because people still don’t feel safe enough to go to the theatres for watching movies. Not to mention that they now have streaming to contend with.
This underperformance has caused many much-awaited tentpole films like Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow, Minecraft, and more, to delay their releases. This effect can be disastrous for the industry as a whole because blockbusters are what cause people to go to the theatres.
Film industries across the globe have been releasing films on streaming and paid video-on-demand (VOD) to generate revenue during the lockdown. The first movie to adopt this strategy in Hollywood was Universal Studio’s Trolls World Tour, which made $100 million in digital rentals in the period of three weeks. Disney turned to a similar strategy for releasing its film Mulan.
Although the film released in theatres in countries that had managed to limit their coronavirus outbreaks, Disney released the film on their streaming service as a rental in September. Mulan didn’t perform well in international markets but the hybrid strategy helped Disney recoup some of the production costs. Many production houses are considering and adopting the hybrid strategy for their films and have made deals to shorten the window to release on VOD after releasing on theatres.
To sum up, the lockdown has had a huge impact on the film industry. The year 2020 could be referred to as the year of digital entertainment. Production delays, hybrid releases, and underperforming blockbusters were some of the other impacts that the lockdown had on the film industry.