The response to the global spread of the Coronavirus has been blown out of proportion, and the wide majority of people and businesses have been overreacting. The global economy will suffer greatly as a result, and the film industry is one of the industry sectors that will be left most affected. Of course, the craze is merely a passing trend, but we’re nevertheless looking at the effects so far.
1. Delayed film releases
The first major film whose release has been postponed for a couple of months was the newest installment in the James Bond franchise, No Time to Die. The justification officially has to do with the safety of the general public, however, it is clear that the most significant consideration was a financial one. China still has most of its cinemas shut down, although the situation with regard to the virus is almost solved. China is the world’s second largest country in terms of box office revenues, so it would be a significant loss, alongside other markets such as Italy or Iran. On the other hand, another important financial argument which points toward an opposite reaction relates to the fear of piracy. There is widespread concern that pushing back release dates (such as the upcoming Mulan) will spark massive piracy, as moviegoers seek alternatives.
2. Financial losses for studios
Following an escalation of coronavirus cases in South Korea, cinema visits within the country have plunged by 30% to 40%, and an estimated 4.3 billion EUR wordlwide loss is predicted, mostly in the wake of theatre closures in China, South Korea, Italy, France and Japan, and also due to exaggerated precautions taken by governments and people worldwide. These will not be easily recovered or made up for, even if all theatres would resume normal activity within a month. What this will mean for studios in the longer term, we don’t yet know.
3. Difficulty in shooting films
Of course, we expect the coronavirus craze to diminish within the coming weeks, but meanwhile, it will be rather difficult to shoot new films. Filmmaking is one of the few industries which cannot cope with a few weeks of teleconferencing, Skyping and working from home, as it needs a whole team of people from very different departments to be present on set at the same time. If one gets diagnosed, the entire cast and crew will probably be quarantined, and even if nobody ends up sick, the production will have been halted for a significant amount of time. So, hopefully, it will be over soon.