The past few weeks have been dizzying, as global concerns over the COVID-19 have changed the way of daily live. As governments and medical professionals urge the public to self-isolate in order to flatten the curve of transmission, the entertainment industry was brought to an abrupt halt. Movie theaters are closed and blockbusters have been pushed back. What’s more, movies are arriving on video on demand early, and Universal’s Trolls World Tour is skipping its theatrical run altogether. National Association of Theatre Owners’ Director of Media and Research Phil Contrino recently appeared on our podcast ReelBlend, and responded to the current state of the film world.
2021 was always going to be a big year for movies, as there were a ton of highly anticipated blockbusters heading to theaters, especially within the MCU and DCEU. But with studios pulling movies and rescheduling them a year in advance, it looks like it’s going to be an even more chaotic set of months. Phil Contrino addressed this “logjam” of upcoming releases on Reelblend, saying:
What I will say about the logjam: Look, it’s a 52-week release calendar when it’s business as usual right? So, when we get back to this you know there used to be this notion of, ‘Oh, you can’t open a movie in January. You can’t open a movie in February because you gotta wait ‘til the summer when teenagers are out of school for it to be successful.’ Then, over the last 5-10 years that’s gone completely out the window. Because there have been huge movies in basically every month of the year.
Well, that’s certainly reassuring. While the film world is full of uncertainty, it doesn’t look like the National Association of Theatre Owners sees a light at the end of the tunnel. Namely, because of how invested moviegoers are throughout the calendar year.
The last few years have proven that big hits can come at any time of the year, so studios aren't pigeonholed into putting out blockbusters during the summer and holiday months. Phil Contrino believes this shift will be beneficial to helping the industry start back up once COVID-19 concerns are lessened. After all, there are some highly anticipated blockbusters coming, albeit at a later date.
That being said, there's a ton of work to be done for each studios regarding when and how their upcoming blockbusters will be released to the general public once movie theaters reopen. Studios will have to be methodical about when each project will hit theaters, as to maximize profit and keep audience interest. Later in his appearance on ReelBlend, Phil Contrino opened up about that challenge, saying:
So, I’ll say that yeah, it’s going to be difficult. There’s going to be a logjam and things are going to have to move around. Things are going to have to shift. That means things that were on the calendar in 2021 will even be impacted. But there is room. There is room to breathe and the studios are incredibly smart about this. They’ll figure out a date that works for them and they’ll stake it out. And then you know it becomes a battle of one movie moves into one date and that might shift things around. But they’ll figure it out and it will work to the advantage of both the studios and the theaters.
It sounds like the future of the movie world is a giant puzzle at this point. While the pieces are currently spread out, they'll eventually piece together into the next few years of new releases. And while the studios and movie theater owners are hard at work and thinking ahead, the general public is left to wonder about what comes next.