Corona Virus and film industry

How The Corona Virus Affected The Film Industry

The global corona virus has severely affected the global film industry, especially the Marvel cinematic universe. With cinemas in the UK closed for the foreseeable future film studios and bosses have decided to delay the release of their films, some by quite a few months. It’s fair to say though that their hands were tied in all this. With theatres closed and the UK on lockdown there was simply no other option.

Or is there……………

One example of a film adapting its release is Bloodshot, the Vin Diesel Sci Fi Super Soldier thriller.  Release timing is everything for a film and can make or break its success. Sadly, Bloodshot through no fault of it’s own had awful timing. Released more or less as the UK was going into lockdown and social and leisure complexes were closing their doors.

Sony Pictures made the decision to release the film onto digital download to purchase (not to hire) more or less a week after being released at the cinema. Quite simply they had no choice but to do an early release and take a damage limitation approach. With a budget of approximately $42 million that when compared to the $100+ million offerings Bloodshot had a lower target to achieve in order to make a profit. However with the main point of income, that being moviegoers taken away if Bloodshot even manages to break even that is the question.

2 other films that were expected to be huge summer blockbusters were James Bond No Time To Die and the hugely anticipated sequel to Top Gun, aptly named Top Gun: Maverick. Besides the obvious factor of people not being able to leave home to watch a film the other factor is the promotional tours that the stars of the films are expected to do. Often requiring international travel and worldwide tours. This factor alone made it impossible to release a new film as having their stars promoting the film can be the difference between profit and loss for the studios.

So, onto Marvel, here we have films that rarely drop below $100+ million in production costs, more often then not costing twice or even 3 times as much to produce. This pretty much rules out any straight to video or on demand approach. Factoring out the bums on seats paying customers would eat into any profits each Marvel film makes and let’s be honest they all pretty much make a healthy profit.

The first victim of the Corona Virus was The Black Widow, due for release May 1st this now has a new release date of November 6th. Black Widow fans will have to wait a little longer now to get to watch the only women in the original Avengers team bring it in her own film.

Delays in the Marvel cinematic universe also comes with its own unique set of problems. Many films and characters drop in and out of other films, creating a much larger picture in terms of storytelling. If Marvel want to stay true to a storyline then one film can’t be released before another if characters are linked in both films. Take Spiderman: Far From Home. Even the trailer pretty much told you the ending for Avengers Endgame. So releasing this before Endgame would have ruined the entire climax for Endgame.

Another Marvels film Eternals was due for release in November, this ha snow bene pushed back to a February 2021 release.

The Marvel franchise is a $22 billion global super-power with a ready made fanbase all with money burning a hole in their pocket ready to be used to purchase cinema tickets. Straight to on-demand is not an option for any Marvel film.

What is certain is that Marvel will have their work cut out re-scheduling movie releases when things return to normal. There are acknowledged (most profitable) release dates in the calendar. Also, no studio wants to release its big blockbuster the same day as another studio. So, picking a free weekend to be released can be a daunting prospect, hence film studios tend to announce release dates years before, so other studios know to avoid this date for their own releases.

Let’s be honest none of us know how long the lockdown and restrictions will be in place so until these have been lifted the studios can’t even begin to look at dates. Expect a surge in cinema goers though once this is all over as we will appreciate more now the taken for granted trips to the theatre to watch the latest blockbuster.

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