As the fear of a global pandemic is upon us, consumers are being forced to adapt to new ways of living and socializing, as school and work closures leave millions in seclusion at home. While the population wrestles with the closing of stores, restaurants, and banks, Hollywood is facing its own existential crisis.
As the world slows down for the foreseeable future, the Box Office Industry turns a grim eye as studios halt productions and opening weekends. The Entertainment Industry has been hard hit by COVID-19, but is there a way to bring about innovative solutions during this crisis? How can Hollywood assist with viewer morale and benefit from it at the same time?
Box Office Bust
This past weekend saw the lowest ticket sales in the United States, with Hollywood garnering only $55 million in revenue. While not unexpected, as movie theaters began operating at 50% capacity or barring their doors altogether, “the impact of this unprecedented situation was apparent across many industries,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore. “Of course, movie theaters, amidst reduced capacity and an ever-evolving set of circumstances, had a very challenging weekend.”
As celebrities like Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, and Idris Elba admit to testing positive for COVID19 . . .
There has been a definite shift from the previously skeptical public sentiment to one of panic:
With production studios shutting down and hundreds of thousands of entertainment industry workers out of jobs, studio executives are now facing the possibility of a slow or non-existent Spring and Summer Box Office season. And upwards of $4 billion in lost revenue.
With big audience draws like Mulan, Quiet Place, Black Widow, and the new James Bond movie being removed from release calendars, “no one can precisely predict when public life will return to normal, but it will return,” Patrick Corcoran, the president of the National Association of Theater Owners, said in a statement on Match 17. “When those titles are rescheduled, they will make for an even fuller slate of offerings than normal as they are slotted into an already robust release schedule later in the year.”
In the meantime, streaming and on-demand may be an alternative solution to canceling and rescheduling release dates. One that will benefit not only studios but consumers as well. And we can vet plans ahead of moving forward with the benefit of AI-powered market intelligence.
Visualizing Covid Conversations
Using Quid’s Text Analysis capabilities, we can visualize what consumers are discussing in terms of the Entertainment Industry and the COVID-19 threat, as well as the state of the market right now:
We can see that conversation revolves around theater closures and production delays; however, there is a growing interest in online entertainment.
As people begin to adjust to working from home and social distancing, the demand for streaming services will continue to increase - “Streamers have already changed the way we watch TV—introducing binge-watching and slowly eliminating cable subscriptions—and the more that cable and broadcast series are delayed, the more likely we will continue to move away from the appointment viewing of television’s past."
While a few studios, such as Netflix and Disney, already produce and stream their own content, more companies are beginning to see the benefit to instant releases, especially as more states move to lockdowns.
“Universal Studios announced Monday that it would begin releasing films like Invisible Man, Emma and The Hunt available for in-home, on-demand rentals despite the fact that these films were only recently released."
And in a move that would otherwise create backlash among theater chains, Sony released “Bloodshot” to digital streaming just 11 days after it opened, breaking the traditional film distribution schedule.
Making Maverick Movie Moves
At $19.99 to download – a price many consumers are more than happy to pay - the release was an endearing hit with fans:
Will more studios see the benefit of skipping traditional releases? Is some profit better than none?
As production executives face lay-offs and a decrease in movie-goers and ticket sales, on-demand streaming “will cause a change in how we consume content and allow newer titles to get to home video much faster,” says Asaf Ashkenazi, the COO of Verimatrix, a technology company that works with distributors in Hollywood.
“If it’s a new title, you can delay it, continue to follow the traditional system and just wait. Or you can be more experimental and go directly to selling or renting online, which will allow more people to access it and get the revenue now.”
But, how will this play out come award time?
Roll Out the Red Carpet
The Oscars traditionally only awarded to films that open in theaters and show for at least 7 days, may be receiving a face lift, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board contemplates rewriting the rules for this year’s awards. And this offers yet another incentive for studios to consider streaming options.
In these uncertain times, people are looking for normalcy – a break from the news and media outlets, painting fear and uncertainty into their lives. Production companies would be wise to use this to their benefit and their bottom line. And to monitor online trends around what kinds of movies are resonating with viewers during these trying times. Reach out and we’ll show you how to do just that!
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