Film Studios Turn to Streaming Platforms to Recoup Losses

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The future of the film industry grows uncertain as theaters close their doors. Streaming services offer a short-term solution for studios and a convenient form of entertainment, but production schedules are put on hold and moviegoers wonder what comes next.  

During the week of March 22, U.S. box office sales recorded zero revenue for the first time in history. Under normal circumstances, studios wait an average of 90 days between a movie’s release in theaters and its release for home viewing. Now, this is no longer an option. Studios are sending their completed films straight to streaming services to recoup some of their losses.

Movies like Disney’s “Onward” and NBC Universal’s “Invisible Man,” which had only been in theaters for a few weeks, are available to stream on their platforms. DreamWorks distributed “Trolls World Tour” in-home on the same day as their scheduled global theatrical release.

The number of subscribers to streaming companies skyrocketed as people began to self-quarantine, and this development has created a steady increase in those numbers. However, these companies need content. Their continued success depends on their ability to acquire new material, which will be difficult in the coming months.

Hundreds of movies and TV shows have suspended production, and studios are making significant changes to release schedules. Disney’s “Mulan” is now slated to open July 24, 2020 while Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow” will appear in theaters on Nov. 6.  Others have been shelved until 2021 or later.

With so many projects postponed, entertainment industry employees may be out of work longer than expected, but they have not been wasting time. Filmmaker and internet personality, Ryan Connolly, made videos recommending apps, tutorials and online resources for creatives who want to use this time in quarantine to learn more about special effect . Another filmmaker, H.P. Mendoza, created a video compilation that satirizes common issues students and coworkers face while learning to use programs like FaceTime and Zoom.

Likewise, Sam Houston State University students aren’t letting COVID-19 curb their creativity. Senior TV and film production student Benjamin Jefferson has finished the first draft of a short film script and is processing feedback from his friends and classmates.

“The film is about the last 10 minutes of life for a death row inmate,” Jefferson said. “Preparing material gives me something to do for screenwriting and film festivals when they open up again.”

Junior TV and film production student Genevieve Wilson has also been inspired by this global health crisis to write and produce a short film called “Stay Inside.”

“The film is about a woman named Danny who plans to ignore the social distancing order and go see her crush,” Wilson said. “I was inspired to write this after seeing videos online of people saying that they didn’t care about getting sick with COVID-19 and that they still wanted to enjoy their vacations.”

 It has been a challenge for most to work alone, but this disconnect has given the opportunity to learn more about what each crew member can contribute to a film. Though we may not be able to return to theaters anytime soon, we have faith that filmmakers will have much to show for it after this is all over.

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