14 June 2024

Covid-19 Affecting Cinemas, What’s Next And Contagion Film Popularity

It’s not unusual for cinema releases to shift around the movie calendar like chess pieces fighting for the best possible position.

Certain blockbusters take several years in the planning and a release date can often make or break box office results whilst film studios go out of their way as to not be competing against other studio ‘tent-poles’.

That term is an industry label used for highlighted big movies with high expectations within the all important opening weekend.

The recent decision by the suits at Sony Pictures to eliminate the upcoming James Bond film, No Time To Die, from their immediate schedule less than a month out of the early April release to November wouldn’t have been easy one to make.

Global hysteria around the outbreak of Coronavirus or COVID-19 is justified, sadly taking lives and causing respiratory problems or more for those showing signs of this pandemic in the making.

China in particular being the location where it is alleged to have originated have closed thousands of theatres, cinema and stage until further notice. Representing one of the biggest box office turnovers in the world that is one of the biggest reasons to put 007 on hold.

Any James Bond film is an event, not just a normal movie off the production line, they strive for greatness, they’re their own global genre up there with Star Wars and more recently Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings franchises, to a lesser extent Fast and the Furious.

Luckily Australian (& UK) cinemas have yet to close their doors, let’s hope people stay aware not to cough uncovered in auditoriums or foyers.

Also due to piracy prevention and classification, No Time to Die just couldn’t be released everywhere but China, so Sony pulled the plug on all of us pushing it to what i believe is the more profitable month on November. Hello possible Oscar nomination Daniel Craig, in supposedly his last turn as the super spy.

Disney Pictures, considering it is a Chinese based tale, from all reports were close to pull release of new live action remake Mulan, but it is going ahead on screens March 28th.

However another Sony film, Peter Rabbit 2, just changed release dates suddenly, now gone from Easter 2020 to August avoiding potential box office virus affected slumps.

I would not be surprised if further films on slates are cornered to shift to the back end of the year or wiped entirely going onto the streaming option, this can still be quite profitable for studios opposed to juggling.

May i suggest a rewatch of a quality 2011 film i highly recommended at the time and more so now, that has all of a sudden been extremely sort after on Blu-Ray (selling out in stores) and breaking search engine records on streaming services; Contagion, directed by Steven Soderbergh.

An all star cast in a movable story around individuals suffering from an epidemic, prevention and how it originated, different of course to COVID-19 but brutally eye opening art imitating life to certain degree.

For lesser shock value still focused around pandemic, see Outbreak (1995) interestingly a coughing scene inside a plane is all too familiar.

As an obsessed movie fanatic who made it my career, i couldn’t imagine not attending ‘the pictures’ so fingers crossed on washed hands, our state of the art theatre’s stay open and releases stay on flow.

Shane A.Bassett | Movie Analyst

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