COMMENTARY: CAN CINEMA RECOVER FROM A YEAR OF LOCKDOWN?

The film industry’s existential crisis started long before the pandemic. While cinema’s future looks bleak now, there is an excellent chance it will be able to recover.

It’s been a year since COVID-19 put the world on an extended timeout. Last year saw theatres shutter their doors while movie studios postponed their biggest titles. In the areas where theatres finally reopened, many regular patrons opted to stay home.

But the film industry’s existential crisis started long before the pandemic. While cinema’s future looks bleak now, there is an excellent chance it will be able to recover.

COVID-19 may have left the movie business battered but it’s not broken, and it is, perhaps, better equipped than ever to compete with new media for our attention.

We’re deep into the pandemic, and there are still a ridiculous number of quality titles making their debut on video-on-demand (VOD) platforms and streaming services each week. Depending on where you live, you can still catch films at drive-ins and theatres (offering reduced-capacity seating).

The pandemic did force Hollywood to postpone its most lucrative franchises. A big-budget title like Fast & Furious 9 can’t recoup its cost without earning revenue from theatres. The industry managed to churn out hundreds of small- to mid-budget films because these titles can turn a profit without a theatrical run.

Critical darlings like NomadlandThe Father and Minari may not be on the average moviegoer’s radar, but don’t view their award-season nominations as a sign of the End Times. Best Picture contenders are rarely box office smashes.

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