When will the film industry go back to normal?

By Yasmine England BA Development Studies

The smell of fresh popcorn, the extra-large fizzy drinks, the (painfully) expensive sweets and chocolates. Going to the cinema is an experience we all enjoy. It allows us to be completely immersed into another reality and to escape from whatever else is going on in our lives. We’re able to feel connected to others without a single word, all experiencing the same emotions and gripped by the huge screen and loudspeakers.

However, the pandemic has had a large impact on the film industry since 2020, closing down many movie theatres and repeatedly postponing the release of movies. The film industry as a whole has suffered great financial losses and an abundance of people in the industry have lost their jobs, forcing many into insecure freelance capacities.

 “Though there have been dire consequences, it has now prompted a mass of creativity from the film industry.”

Though there have been dire consequences, it has now prompted a mass of creativity from the film industry. There have been many efforts to find ways of replicating the same escapism and connectedness induced by cinemas, something many of us crave through these severe periods of isolation. It has led to the reintroduction and popularity of drive-in cinemas in many countries such as Italy, the US, and the UK, as well as portable cinemas in Madrid for those stuck in their flats.

Some films were released and streamed online to adapt to the pandemic. Mulan (2020), the live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1998 Mulan, was originally scheduled to be released on 27 March 2020 but it was postponed thrice until the decision was made to release it on Disney+ for the cost of £19.99. This produced a debate about whether the price was worth it, offering insight into the attitudes of many people towards streaming new films. Some argued that it was a good price as it is cheaper than the price of a family trip to the cinema whilst others argued that they were already paying the subscription for Disney+ and they weren’t getting the experience of the cinema, making it extortionate pricing.

This begs the question: what role does streaming play? There have been several attempts for cinemas to reopen throughout the year but as the streaming of new films online has grown, with the Warner Brothers planning to release Dune and the next Matrix sequel online,  it has begun to undermine the revival of cinemas. There is already a lack of new movies being produced, so now that streaming online has become popularised, there are no major or unique components of a cinema that can currently entice people. 

Regardless, the UK is under a national lockdown under further notice, pushing us to our limit and the film industry to theirs. The timeline of return for the film industry back to normal is still unknown, but distribution of vaccines has provided many of us with some light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, we will be back in the cinema and eating expensive popcorn with an enormous fizzy drink within the year.

Photo caption: A drive in movie theatre with tens of cars facing it (Credit: LA times, 2020).

Post Author: The SOAS Spirit

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