The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to large-scale insecurities and anxieties about the future of the cinema business. Many livelihoods rely upon the performing arts and production of movies. These businesses are just not the fraternity of artists but their supporting staff, co-workers, and an entire ecosystem that is sustained through their practice. The lockdown will eventually go away as different parts of the world have already begun relaxing the restrictions. Some states have opened theaters and cinemas, but this pandemic has/will significantly impact on cinema business, our film-viewing behavior, and other economic decisions around it.
The core of cinema-business is going to movies and socialize with your friends and family in theaters – this global outbreak has significantly taken a toll on cinemas worldwide, as highlighted by the delayed new James Bond title until November. Cineworld confirmed that they are considering temporary closure of its U.K. and U.S. cinemas, but the final decision hasn’t been made yet. Cineworld is the U.K.’s biggest cinema operator and Regal is the second largest domestic chain in the U.S.
Other productions around the globe also got behind their schedules, with studio pictures such as the Avatar sequel, Matrix 4, Jurassic World: Dominion, and smaller productions such as Rober Eggers’s follow-up to The Lighthouse.
Filmmakers found themselves sweating, having to organize emergency dealings with cast and crew, and most importantly worrying with the question of whether their insurance policies would cover a global pandemic or not. Even after reopening, the cinemas have to be at least half full to make sense financially.
Unlike cinemas, online streaming services have benefited from the spread of COVID-19 as people self-isolate and avoid social situations. Most of the viewers already have shifted towards viewing movies on online streaming platforms which encouraged many productions to release their cinematic projects online. Universal production already hinted that in the future it might consider releasing their movies into cinemas and online streaming platforms, a strategy that would erode the profit margins of the multiplexes.
On the other hand, online streaming platforms have witnessed a record surge in subscriptions during the lockdown. This doesn’t mean it has suddenly turned into a movie buff, but that these streaming services offer ease of entertainment for people locked inside their homes. The range of movies and TV series on these portals is also far superior to what is available on regular television. Most films and TV series have released exclusively on these platforms after delaying their release date a number of times.
After this lockdown, people are going to value everything from a cup of coffee to the price of a cinema ticket in a different way. The people will be poorer, every experience will have to justify the cost, which is why subscription models and memberships are so popular. However, the cinema experience is unique and producers are confident that audiences will start to cautiously return. However, when cinemas do re-open some films will miss any theatrical release as screen space will be limited to those cinematic projects deemed more likely to succeed.
Honestly, nobody knows what the future holds, but one thing is sure: Cinema loves an underdog. So it’s not yet time to write off the cinema business and industry. There’s plenty of room for growth, and new avenues are opening to generate great revenues.
Anyway, this was our take on the topic. If you are reading this then you’re obviously a cinephile. If you like to socialize around movies and host virtual movie-watch parties while maintaining social distancing you should check out SounderBlu. SonderBlu is the world’s first interactive movie streaming platform where you can connect, share, stream, and socialize around movies.
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