The U.S. entertainment industry continues to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, as productions, studios, and theaters come to a halt across the nation. Netflix stopped the production of all its series and films in the U.S. and Canada; shows from various platforms have been put on hold indefinitely before production even started; and Disney announced production on all its live-action features has been furloughed. Sadly, the list of industry employees taking a financial blow grows by the day. Indeed, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees reports that the pandemic shutdown has resulted in the loss of approximately 120,000 television and film crew jobs held by its 150,000 members.

Additionally, the postponement of movie release dates are costing studios tens of millions of dollars in lost marketing revenue. Universal is pushing its Fast & Furious 9 release date from May 22, 2020 to April 2, 2021; Disney’s big-budget live-action remake of Milan will no longer show in theaters on March 27 as planned; and the James Bond adventure flick No Time to Die is being pushed from April to November.

The widespread social-distancing requirements that the CDC is urging Americans to practice to combat the spread of the coronavirus caused many Americans to stop buying movie tickets en masse. It wasn’t long before the AMC, Regal, and Cinemark cinemas, the three largest movie theater chains in the nation, locked their doors. The smaller theaters followed suit, loosely estimating they’ll reopen in six to twelve weeks. The shutdown leaves over 150,000 hourly theater workers looking for financial relief.

Entertainment industry employees are now looking to government legislation for financial relief during these troubling times—until they can return to their jobs and hopefully pick up where they left off.

But at the same time, many individuals and companies are trying to adapt to the financial hardship by coming up with out-of-the-box solutions to keep cash flowing. For example, filmmakers and studios are looking for innovative ways to get their projects to audiences without the need of a theater. “I’ll tell you this—everything’s on the table right now,” Erik Lokkesmoe, president of marketing and distribution at Aspiration Entertainment, told Fox News. “I mean, we’re hearing about and getting calls about people attempting things they never would have thought of three weeks ago in terms of technology, delivery, partnerships, theaters.” Aspiration, for one, is actively working to bring content into the homes of viewers in a new way—an ”eventized home experience.” That is, they plan to partner with movie theaters to enable consumers to buy “virtual tickets” via the theater but then have the movie be sent to the customer through a direct-screener link, so they can watch the content from their own preferred location. This new configuration eliminates the theater-distribution model, but it allows the theater to share in the box-office revenue. But Lokkesmoe admits, “There is great concern that a new distribution model could shake up the theater industry as we know it.”

Li Edelkoort, who’s regarded as one of the world’s most influential trend forecasters, was recently asked about the ongoing effects the coronavirus will have on society. “Anyone still planning public events in the coming months might as well stop organizing today and find innovative ways to communicate and relay the information differently,” she advised. “We will be in a position of having a blank page for a new beginning because lots of companies and money will be wiped out in the process of slowing down.” She calls on the innovators and the brave to come forward and lead us all forward.  Edelkoort predicts, “Redirecting and restarting will require a lot of insight and audacity to build a new economy with other values and ways of handling production, transport, distribution, and retail … the impact of the virus will be cultural and crucial to building an alternative and profoundly different world.”

 

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