At the time of this writing, only about 10 million COVID-19 vaccines had been administered – a tally that falls woefully short of the 20 million goal by the end of 2020 and will almost certainly be below the 70 million goal by the end of January 2021. This just means that the COVID-19 pandemic is only likely to tick on longer until enough people can become inoculated. And while the pandemic has already spelled bad news for the travel and hospitality industry and restaurants, one often overlooked industry is film.
We’re not so much talking about the actors and studios – they’re still working and filming TV shows and movies. In fact, there’s perhaps more content out there than there’s been at any time in history. We’re more talking about movie theaters in general, specifically how they’re challenged with declining revenue from Hollywood continuously delaying new releases or, perhaps worst yet, putting them on streaming services instead of the big screen.
Disney made waves last fall when it put the live-action Mulan on its Disney+ streaming service, but for an additional fee. And more recently, HBO Max released Wonder Woman 1984 to its streaming service and theaters on the same day. HBO Max also plans to put all of its pre-planned 2021 theatrical releases on it as well. Even Netflix said it will release a new original film each week of 2021.
As for the studios that had planned on theatrical releases, the delays keep piling up. The new James Bond movie “No Time to Die” is nearly one year delayed from when it was initially scheduled to debut. More recently, “Morbius” was delayed yet again. As the first quarter looks bleak on the pandemic front as infections climb and vaccinations are behind schedule, studios and theaters are likely looking to summer for the true bounce back.
The incoming Biden Administration says it is going to reverse this trend. The president’s $1.9 trillion plan revealed this week allocated major funds toward testing and vaccine rollout. President Joe Biden stated that he plans to use the Defense Production Act to make as many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible. Biden has stated that his vaccine goal is to administer 100 million shots within the first 100 days of his administration.
This pledge marks a peculiar change of tone from the top Democrat on vaccines. During the earlier phases of the election season, then-Senator Kamala Harris suggested that Americans should not get vaccinated — charging that the Trump Administration rushed the process. Apparently, things change when you’re actually in charge…
The hope among economists is that things can be corrected enough so that there is a summer movie season, albeit perhaps in July and August rather than kicking off on the traditional Memorial Day weekend. As it stands now, the industry is in wait-and-see mode, and it seems like it has been in wait-and-see mode for far too long.