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CORONAVIRUS, A BAD FRONT FOR THE THEATRES.

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If you are alive in the world in 2021 you must be aware now that the world around us has changed drastically. Things are no longer the way they used to be all as a result of one singular factor: the coronavirus pandemic.

On the 19th of December 2020 in Wuhan China one of the most life changing pandemics the world has never seen was declared. Being sad about the lives lost and casualties is one thing, another is the businesses and corporations affected. Suddenly, bankruptcy declaration becomes the new order of the day. A major industry affected by this is the Hollywood movie industry.

Traditional mainstream media with companies like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime recorded a rise in membership and viewership due to the popularly purported social distancing which is an attempt to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. In lights of this as the rule goes which is the infamous ‘six-feet’ in between persons at all scenarios.

Business dynamics with relation to persons seated in confined spaces such as transportation and interactive viewing and live services like concerts and cinemas were majorly affected. In normal traditional movie industry, releasing a series or movie on a streaming platform is normally termed as ‘low-budget’ no disrespect to Zack Snyder’s Justice League released on HBO Max this year.

Still ‘low-budget’ is not a bad word but when it becomes a must do due to the fact that visiting a cinema now could spell health troubles for a person, this becomes a major blow as movies that are meant to have fared better if given a much deserved premiere and theatre viewing are reduced to desperate social media campaigns and being launched on a streaming service.

A popular case scenario is Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet”. After getting its release date pushed back three times due to a worrisome pandemic, these among others are factors that made the movie lose a whooping hundred million dollars. Tenet actually premiered in theatres, but you can’t compare the results to what would have been gotten if the movie was debuted before the coronavirus pandemic.

After cinemas were shutdown, viewing dropped and of course so did ticket sales, the latter which is a major factor for income and revenue generation.

The coronavirus, prompting the initiation of a total global lockdown had people cooped up in their homes. Due to this major rise and surge in internet traffic as reported by internet company cloudflare, one could say that online advertising is now the enforced way to get your brand, market or whatever you are promoting to the target audience. This could create scenarios where the money spent on promotions surpassed the money recovered or even rather having a more successful marketing and advertising campaign than the product itself as seen in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Though Tom Hanks told Variety that the theatre would ‘absolutely’ survive the dreary pandemic all we can do is hope and pray for a much more favourable outcome.

Since the beginning of time, Hollywood movies stayed in theatres for up to 70 or even a hundred days before being allowed to be released onto digital and streaming platforms. Blockbusters and major releases tend to stop generating revenue after about six weeks, then releasing on digital platforms and franchising into TV are ways to make and increase revenue, this is also a brilliant and creative way to recover losses in a scenario where the movie tanks in cinemas, it just could do well on digital and renting platforms. While this pandemic definitely spells progress and higher engagement to streaming platforms. The main heart of the cinema world, seeing in theatres is drastically affected.

In countries like the US, the ‘drive through’ were seen to spring up from the dead. The pandemic very much disrupted almost the whole business sector. Even Virgin Atlantic went bankrupt. The question as to whether theatres would survive the pandemic is a very crucial one as this has already set a ripple in the viewing industry. While Tom Hanks gave a very positive prediction, we on the other hand cannot say as his predictions are rather based on sentiments and wishful thinking.

Going out to do groceries now is very much likened to similar scenarios in apocalyptic movies like The Walking Dead. The mere thought of going to a packed theatre now to see a movie sounds deadly, no matter how good it is or proposed to be.

Now most movies are premiered in the theatre but due to scenarios mentioned above, it’s only for very important movies now. Blockbusters in particular would be the major point of focus for the theatre. As stated, before as to the duration the movie stays in the cinema, the time frame has now been shortened to a maximum of seventeen days. That’s relatively low if you think about the amount of engagement and dynamics needed to be produced to pull people to cinemas and sell tickets and while yes a movie could very much be watched from the confinement of home via a streaming service, nothing just like the classroom/zoom issues arising, can be compared to viewing in the theatre.

Prior to last year Warner Bros announced that all movies it would be releasing in 2021 would be available on streaming platforms, this includes major releases like Dune and Suicide Squad. We all know the amount of revenue that would be lost would be major than compared to if it had been released and debuted in cinemas.

Even other aspects of the movie world was affected, majorly the Oscars, “I don’t know about travelling all this way only to have half your face covered by a facemask” a nominee mused and it’s very much debatable.

The pandemic in all aspects of the word is a disaster for the movie theatres, like AMC theatres that had to completely shutdown. Though yes, this gives room for creativity and innovation in the movie scene but the ripple effect is like no other.

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