Movie Studios Jeopardized by COVID-19, Streaming Services Profit

The shutdown of theaters means a loss of revenue for new major films

Amaka Nwokocha , Staff Writer

Everything and everyone has been impacted by COVID-19. The entertainment industry has been rocked by its foundations. It will likely never be the same again. From massive studios postponing or fully canceling their biggest releases of the year, to streaming services like Netflix picking up millions of new users, a lot has shifted in the past month and a half.

Several movies that were released in late 2019 or early this year have been moved to streaming early. Movies like Emma, Frozen II, and Onward were supposed to be digitally released in May or even later, but because of the sudden closure of movie theaters worldwide, the studios were forced to either take the loss or make the films available digitally. Seeing as the films were already released, there was no choice to be made. So, all of these films (and many others released in that timeframe) are currently available to stream. However, films that haven’t yet been released are in a more complicated situation.

Large studios are in a huge bind. The biggest and most anticipated movies have been postponed, some indefinitely. These titles include Mulan, Black Widow, F9, No Time to Die, A Quiet Place II, and many more. These studios, which include Disney Studios and Universal Pictures, have made the conscious decision to postpone these films rather than take them digital. This is because they don’t want to lose all of that revenue. Disney was projected to make over $1.5B on Mulan and Black Widow alone, and there is no way that anyone would want to lose that kind of money. It makes more sense for them to hold on to the film. However, movies that were supposed to be released theatrically have also been exploring “virtual premieres.” Trolls: World Tour is the first film to do it. It was supposed to be released on April 17 but instead had a virtual premiere, becoming available to rent and stream beginning on April 10th. It has been a massive success, making about $50 Million in its first 6 days. Since the projected numbers for a theatrical run was a worldwide total of about $170 Million, it’s not bad at all. This success might push studios to make their films available for home release, instead of pushing dates back to 2021, which is already overcrowded with delayed films. 

I think that studios should consider putting their films on Virtual On Demand and streaming services. Netflix has seen massive surges in membership and viewing in the past month, and Disney could get a share in it through Hulu and Disney+. If they play their cards right, it’s possible for them to be successful. On the other hand, it might just be smarter for them to wait until they can get the almost assured billion-dollar box office money.