Could COVID-19 Change the Entertainment Industry Forever?

The entertainment industry has produced millions of jobs all over the world.  In Hollywood alone, the it has created over 2 million jobs, and about 400,000 nationwide American businesses.  In the United Kingdom, films and television shows generate an estimated £60,000 a day.  Even countries like China are starting to produce creative content to assist in generating their economy.

From the years 2009-2019, China has seen a rise in the number of their citizens that attend movie theaters by 860%.  Unlike China, the rest of the world has seen a decrease in attendance of moviegoers due to films, as well as television shows, being released on demand or on streaming networks.  North America has barely seen a change in the amount of people that attend movie theaters since 1995.  United Kingdom movie theaters have seen a consistent 170 million attendees a year since 2005.  Even India, as World Economic Forum calls the country a “production powerhouse,” has seen a decline in moviegoers by 32% from 2009-2018.

However, the already declining American box offices, are estimated to make about 60% less than this year they did in 2019 largely due to the coronavirus.

The jobs the entertain industry provides.

Between a film and/or television show, hundreds of people with numerous positions are needed to help create the project.  Some of these jobs include hair and makeup, cinematographers, set directors, which all work in very close quarters with one other.  As a result of all film and television production, as well and pre and post productions, being forced to come to a stop in mid-March, thousands of these cast and crew members were furloughed.

How pre and post productions have been able to continue while quarantining.

Even though film and television production could not continue for month, production companies have found ways to continue pre and post production objectives.  When it comes to pre-production, production companies have been able to spend this time improving and enhancing scripts, continuing to cast for future films over video calls, and scouting future locations online.

Post production has been able to continue as well, although being much harder to do remotely.  Before COVID-19, post-production teams would spend months in one room to concur a single task.  Now that post-production is being conducted from home, downloading and transferring a lot of high definition visual and audio content over the internet is the best way for post-production teams to work together on an assignment.  This results in a lot of content lagging and those on the post-production team to spend a great deal of time waiting for content to download.

Finding ways to overcome these obstacles, post production teams have been able to edit content, create special effects, and conduct scores while working remotely from home.

Need for creativity. 

As a result of the world spending most of the year so far quarantined, television shows and films have to discover creative and out of the box ways to create content.  When it comes to television we are able to see this creativity with shows such as, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and, Saturday Night Live.  Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show team was able to successfully have Fallon film himself at home, with the help of his family, while interviewing guests via video call.  The result was successful for months until Fallon was able to return to studio while continuing to conduct interviews with guests over video calls.

Saturday Night Live, was forced to use their cast’s and crew’s creativity to finish the show’s 45th season.  They were able to continue the sketch comedy show by creating content and multiple sketches that could all be done by video call.  These nontraditional and unique ways of creating television content was what was able to keep new episodes of these shows on the air while not having to furlough all of their cast and crew members.

Even award shows such as The 72nd Emmy Awards which aired on September 20, 2020 had to take the creative, virtual approach of conducting the show.  Jimmy Kimmel hosted the show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles speaking to an empty stadium containing carboard cutouts of the nominees.  Instead of attending the awards in person, the nominees attended via video call from their homes surrounded by their close friends, family, and/or small groups of the cast and crew.

The very creative way of conducting the show was a huge success with records being broken as 24 year old Zendaya, became the youngest woman to win the Emmy for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Dreama for her role in EuphoriaSchitt’s Creek also broke the record for the most wins for a comedy television show in a single season, receiving 9 Emmys.

Due to the coronavirus, production companies have had to make changes to aspect of their projects that were not previously seen as issues.  The physical location of everyone entailed in the project is not as essential as it once was.  As a result of COVID-19, it has been noted that a auditions do not have to take place in person due to platform such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.  Because those casting do not need those auditioning to be in the same city as them, the casting pool becomes much larger.  This allows productions to cast actors for cheaper the price depending on where they live.How COVID may affect the future of entertainment.

As a result of most of the world having to work remotely from their homes since March, there is a large demand for new available content on streaming networks and on demand.  The need for creative content being streamed directly to the viewers is more essential than ever before with a large amount of the world’s population not feeling comfortable to leave their homes.  As a result of COVID, Universal Pictures released, Trolls World Tour online for streaming.  Even without the film being released in theaters it grossed over $100 million.

Trolls World Tour is just one example of how streaming content solely on the internet can be more successful now than ever before due to the large demand for more content.  This allows for independent filmmakers to be noticed more than ever before.  The more creative the idea of generating their content, the greater the chance that it will be noticed by the public.

How production companies have already been able to get back to work.

California gave the approval for in-person productions to resume on June 12th.  However, production companies all over the country have come up with their own creative ways to resume production.

The Bachelorette began filming the show’s 16th season in July.  The cast and crew were contained to the filming location, a Palm Springs area resort.  The cast and crew had to quarantine at the resort for a total of 14 days before filming.  All of the filming for the show was contained inside of the resort.

The CBS drama S.W.A.T. was the first prime-time scripted television show to resume filming.  The show started filming in early August and films in multiple locations throughout Southern California.

The most impressive return to production since the start of the coronavirus was by the soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful.  This was the first television show to resuming filming, which started in June.  Bradley Bell, the show’s head writer and executive producer stated that this was possible due frequent coronavirus testing and maintaining social distances between those on set.  The show even used blowup dolls for intimate scenes.

Will entertainment ever be the same?

Even though it is expected that television shows and films will eventually resume to normal, there is no telling how long that will take.  However, some aspects of the industry might never be the same.

The Broadway show Frozen has ended abruptly due to COVID-19.  With no plan of reopening on Broadway, the show will still tour North America once it is safe to do so.  This show is Broadway’s first major shut down leaving over 30 actors and dozens of crew members unemployed for the time being.

It is unclear to know how many more Broadway shows, and even television shows and films, will be forever shutdown due to the coronavirus.  About 10% of films’ and television’s production budgets have been set aside for strictly coronavirus precautions, such as daily testing.  For productions that cannot afford the appropriate coronavirus precautions it may result in the project either being shut down or further delayed, resulting in the crew and cast continuing to be unemployed.

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