The Impact of COVID on the Movie Industry


“Movie Theater” by roeyahram is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Elizabeth Secor, Editor

COVID-19 has seen many changes in what people do in their free time and entertainment is handled. Games, concerts, movies, and more all canceled. One group that adapted quickly was the movie industry. After theatres were closed, many movie companies delayed or canceled movies then adapted to keep making money.

One industry that dealt with their movies being delayed was Disney, who used their new streaming platform Disney+ to help deal with the issues. Within the first few months of quarantine, Disney released Onward and Frozen 2 early on the Disney+. Both movies were meant to come out later in the year and had been scheduled to have a longer time in theatres then they did. 

Along with movies in theatres being released on Disney+ early Disney made a splash over the Fourth of July weekend by releasing Hamilton several months early,  since the original air date had been allotted for October. They also released Artemis Fowl straight to streaming instead of delaying its theatrical release. 

More recently, Disney+ released Mulan via streaming instead of in theatres. Mulan was delayed twice, originally meant to be in theatres on May 27th, then pushed to July 24th, and finally released on August 21st. However, Mulan had a stark difference from the films Disney+ also released over quarantine; this time, the movie was not free. In addition to paying for a Disney+ subscription to watch Mulan, an extra $30 had to be paid. This is called Disney+ Premium.

What Disney+ did with Mulan was already a common occurrence with other studios during quarantine.  The first studio to release a movie slotted for theatres on streaming instead was Universal. They released Trolls World Tour for streaming for $20, where it gathered more successful revenue then it may have got in theatres. After the success of Trolls World Tour, many movies followed suit, including Scoob!, Just Mercy, The King of Staten Island and much more.

Movie studios were not the only ones to have to adapt to changes. Once theatres were allowed to reopen, they were faced with not having any movies to show. So, they started doing specials with $5 movies and showing classics. This kept theatres afloat until more recently, where they have been able to release new theatrical releases, including New Mutants and Tennet

While things looked dark for theatres and movie industries alike at the start of quarantine, they are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.