COVID-19 may incite fundamental changes to entertainment industry

May 14, 2020 — by Serena Li
ent industry

In order to comply with COVID-19 regulations, entertainment companies are shifting to online content.

“No Time to Die” was expecting to earn about $88 million on its opening weekend. Now, viewers will have to wait at least six months before they see Daniel Craig’s final stunts in the last Bond movie. 

The House of Representatives passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill to attempt to aid various industries across the United States. The entertainment industry, however, has still taken a massive hit. As a result, the industry will likely see long-term changes that shift their mode of operation and content online to the coronavirus outbreak.  

Worldwide quarantine led to several postponements of blockbuster films, including “Mulan”, “Indiana Jones” and “Black Widow”. As of March, the global box office has lost $7 billion since the start of the pandemic and is gradually descending to $10 billion. 

When China reopened about 500 theaters on March 26 (about 5 percent of the country’s total number of theaters) before quickly shutting them down again, it only grossed about $4,355 per day country-wide compared to $20 million per day in 2019.

While North American movie theaters remain open, the box office has hit its lowest in 20 years. AMC stock prices dropped from $7 in Jan. to $2 today, and New York theaters are making about 64 percent less than the previous months. AMC and Regal are also implementing new rules, such as capping the attendance and 50 percent and using staggered seating. 

Some movie companies switched to online releases to adapt to the fall of movie theaters. NBCUniversal released “Troll World Tour” completely digitally, receiving unforeseen success and ranking number 1 on streaming services such as Amazon, Comcast, Apple, and FandangoNow. This success could set a precedent for more movies to release online in the future and even possibly shift the premiere of movies completely to streaming services.  

Entertainment giants, as well as celebrities, are also turning to streaming platforms that provide movies and TV shows straight to audiences’ households. Global streaming activities have since increased by about 20 percent, according to an article by Quartz

For instance, talk show hosts like Conan O’Brien and Trevor Noah interview their guests through online conferences, Disney channel has reunited the cast of High School Musical for an online sing-along, and artists live-stream their concerts on social media to keep fans engaged.  

Online subscriptions may not be a possible option for all users, however. According to CNET, many are reconsidering the continuation of their streaming service subscriptions because employees are being laid off work and losing financial security. In response, companies such as Sundance, PBS, and Disney+ are offering special coronavirus discounts, which will most likely prompt more streams.

From the big media conglomerate to a crew worker, the pandemic will definitely leave a significant impact. How they will recover from the losses is still unknown. It is clear, however, that the pandemic has instigated irreversible changes that might fundamentally shift the way the entertainment industry operates in the future.

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