Theaters Closing, Delayed Movies & The Future of VOD


While we wanted to wait for a special occasion to start System Update, a written and audiovisual series focused on current events, we certainly did not imagine that occasion being so desperate. As many of you already know, COVID-19, also known the coronavirus, has spread across the world at an alarming rate. And given the size of our audience we feel it necessary to reiterate the word of medical professionals to ensure we mitigate the spread of the virus and flatten the curve. So please be sure to wash your hands, cough and sneeze into a tissue and practice social distancing whenever possible. With that said, let's move onto the updates, listed in no specific order.



DONALD GLOVER PRESENTS

On Sunday morning, Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, has released a surprise album. Consisting of 12 songs, including Feels Like Summer, the album is titled Donald Glover Presents. Perhaps even more surprising than the release of the album is the fact that it was not made available on any streaming services. Instead, it was released exclusively to a website called donaldgloverpresents.com. Don't get excited though, if you haven't heard the album yet, you may have to wait a bit because within the day the site was reset and now only displays a white background with the text "Donald Glover Presents". There have been no comments as of yet in regards to the re-release of the album.



DELAYS DELAYS AND MORE DELAYS

Over the past few weeks, several big movies have been delayed due to the coronavirus. It started with No Time To Die being pushed from it's April 20 release to November 25. After that, the flood gates opened and several of this year's biggest films moved out of the Q1 release window. Here is the full list of delayed movies as of writing this:

  • Antlers (unspecified)
  • A Quiet Place: Part II (unspecified)
  • Black Widow (unspecified)
  • F9 (April 2, 2021)
  • Mulan (unspecified)
  • The Lovebirds (unspecified)
  • The New Mutants (unspecified)
  • No Time To Die (Nov 25,2020)
  • Peter Rabbit (Aug 7, 2020)

Along with these release delays, production on many big movies and TV shows have been pushed back, including The Batman (2021), The Wither Season 2 and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021).



MOVIE THEATERS CLOSING ALL OVER AMERICA

Time for the main event, the story that most are probably here for. AMC and Regal have announced that they will be closing their theaters for the foreseeable future. This news follows last weekend's box office results which marked the lowest domestic weekend box office return in nearly two decades. Despite this, however, Pixar's Onward still managed to pull in $10.5 million, followed by I Still Believe with $9.5 million, Vin Diesel's Bloodshot at $9.3 million, and The Invisible Man, in its third weekend, with $6 million. While AMC and Regal are some of the first big chains to close their doors, others such as Movie Tavern, which have implemented a 50% theater capacity reduction as a form of "social distancing", are expected to soon follow suit.

Along with this news, several studios are releasing their films on VOD earlier than anticipated. Frozen II is already streaming on Disney+ and Universal Pictures announced that some of their newest films, such as The Invisible Man and The Hunt, will be available for purchase on VOD as soon as this weekend. Universal's Trolls World Tour, which was slated for April 10 release, will be available to stream on release day. DC's Birds of Prey, which should still be in the middle of its theatrical run, will instead be released to VOD on March 24. While this is good news in some ways, the ease-of-access to people who cannot leave their homes will certainly boost their sales, this is an odd direction for the film industry to be heading in.

For a few years now, the booming popularity of streaming services has caused movie theaters to head in a downward trajectory. The benefit of watching a selection of hundreds of movies at any given time is a great luxury but certain films are not meant to be watched on a small screen. Seeing movies like Mission Impossible: Fallout and Dunkirk on the big screen is arguably the way they were made to be watched. Watching them on a TV screen in the living room with the light streaming in from the windows is doing a disservice to both yourself and the movie. And this is not at all mentioning the enjoyment and social experience of going to the movies. While I won't be too pessimistic and state that movie theaters will simply cease to exist after this, I do worry about how they will bounce back in the months following the disappearance of COVID-19.



SOME POSITIVES

All hope is not lost though, while people all over the world are being quarantined, it seems that a lot has taken up the task of going through their gaming backlog. On the weekend of March 14-15, Steam blew past its all-time record of concurrent users. During peak hours, over 20 million people were logged on with roughly 6 million being in-game.

Furthermore, as companies all around the world are forced to make tough decisions, several game developers have made statements regarding their new policies to deal with the virus. Ubisoft released a well-written message to the community to reassure players that they are doing their best to keep games online while taking all the necessary safety precautions, and CD Projekt Red has released a small update regarding preventive measures they're taking to ensure that their employees are safe while ensuring that Cyberpunk 2077 releases on time. And finally, Doom: Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be released this week, on March 20, as planned.

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