From first draft to post-production, get an overview of the filmmaking process with these tips from professional filmmakers.
The three phases of moviemaking.
Whether you want to make a low-budget short film or Hollywood feature, you can break down the process of making your own movie into three major phases: pre-production, production, and post-production. An understanding of the entire process can help ensure you make the most of your time and money to set yourself up for creative success.
Do your homework in pre-production.
Much of the work of moviemaking happens long before anyone picks up a camera or camcorder to begin principal photography.
Turn your idea into a screenplay.
The first version of any film isn’t a movie at all but a screenplay. Once you have an idea, write the script or hire a screenwriter. Consider your intended audience. What do they want to see? Will your storyline draw them in and will they stick with your characters?
“Think about going down the road of distribution and selling the film to people. You’ll have to prove to them that there is an audience for this project,” says director Greg Emetaz.
Screenwriting is mostly about revision. Show the script to people whose opinions you trust, and revise it based on their feedback. Repeat this process a few times. Use storyboarding to test out the action, camera angles, and ideas for camera movement.
Head into development.
The development phase varies depending on the scale of the movie. “In smaller independent projects, that process is mostly about trying to just raise money. On bigger projects, a studio may have an idea for a movie, and they need to hire all the people to make that happen,” says Emetaz.
While you refine the screenplay, begin to think about how you can turn that blueprint into a film. How much will it cost to properly shoot the film you’ve written? Your first hire may be a line producer, production manager, or assistant director with the knowledge and experience to estimate what you’ll need in terms of personnel, sets, costumes, and equipment.
“Find somebody who loves pre-production,” says director and teacher David Andrew Stoler. “Someone who grooves on doing spreadsheets, making phone calls, putting things together. If they’re someone you trust and work well with, they will be a huge help.”
Don’t lose heart if the first cost estimates are eye-poppingly high. You can revise the script and scale your ideas down to the movie you have the budget to make. “If you have a $200 million idea, but you try to make it for $50,000, it rarely works unless it’s a satire. If it’s full of nothing but action sequences that involve flying, but you don’t have the resources to make that happen, it’s a doomed situation,” says Emetaz.
Gather your cast and crew.
From the cinematographer to the costume and set designers, everyone should share the director’s vision and be willing to invest themselves in the work. (Personal connections to film festivals or distributors don’t hurt either.) “Production is a long, collaborative process, and someone who isn’t game can be a real anchor on the whole thing,” says Stoler.
Be clear about what you expect, but also find out what your crew members want to get out of the film. “I really want to know what they are interested in doing,” Stoler says. “If people feel respected, if they’re given an opportunity to grow and stretch themselves — do something a little out of their range — then they are much more likely to give you much more and try much harder.”
Make the most of the talent around you. “The best projects are ones in which the director guides the vision but doesn’t dictate it. And that means ditching your ego and really listening to people’s opinions about what should happen,” Stoler says.
Maximize your resources.
It takes a lot of money to make a movie, so raise as much as you can. But you should also consider the other resources available to you. “First-time filmmakers, who have to do a lot on a very small budget, should think about other resources, like people who can help you and locations you can use,” Stoler says.
Prepare as much as you can.
The more prepared you are for production before it begins, the better off you’ll be. “Things will change, but if you at least go into everything with a good shot list or storyboards, it will be much easier to pivot at the last minute,” says Emetaz. If you know a scene will require elaborate costumes, you can budget time and personnel for getting actors in and out of them.
Through meticulous preparation, you can learn exactly what you can do on your budget. “It’s a lot easier to cut things at this stage than to get halfway through production and run out of money,” says Emetaz. Stoler recommends creating a spreadsheet of every 15 minutes of every shooting day, so every member of cast and crew knows where they need to be and what they need to do at all times. This level of planning will also help you know what you need to do to set up every location and determine equipment rental and insurance needs.
Budget for as much shooting time as you can because you’ll always feel short of time on set. “Expect your director of photography to underestimate how long everything will take, so add space for things to take longer than you thought,” says Stoler.
Every new shot takes time to set up, so if you have crew members, you can multitask. While you shoot the first shot, set design can work on the second shot and your gaffer can figure out how to get good lighting for it. The key is to schedule all of that and make sure everyone has the schedule. “This is the magic of the spreadsheet,” Stoler says.
Tips for a successful production.
You’ve made your plan and hired everyone (or, if you have no budget, called in all your favors). You have a schedule, locations, equipment, costumes, and props. Now it’s time to block scenes, or figure out how the actors will move in relation to the camera. While the actors rehearse, you can set up and adjust the lighting. Finally, make sure the camera is rolling and the microphones are recording, and you’re ready to start shooting your film.
“It’s always unexpected things that go wrong,” says Emetaz. He recalls trying to shoot a canoeing scene only to discover that the actor didn’t know how to paddle a canoe. “That was a huge problem no one anticipated. You’re just trying to knock off all the things that you need to shoot to complete the film, and you’re going to constantly run into problems.”
Make backup plans. Set up contingencies that account for the unexpected. “It’s really an insane battle against time, because every second is really expensive,” adds Emetaz.
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history of film, also called history of the motion picture, history of cinema from the 19th century to the present.
Early years, 1830–1910
The illusion of films is based on the optical phenomena known as persistence of vision and the phi phenomenon. The first of these causes the brain to retain images cast upon the retina of the eye for a fraction of a second beyond their disappearance from the field of sight, while the latter creates apparent movement between images when they succeed one another rapidly. Together these phenomena permit the succession of still frames on a film strip to represent continuous movement when projected at the proper speed (traditionally 16 frames per second for silent films and 24 frames per second for sound films). Before the invention of photography, a variety of optical toys exploited this effect by mounting successive phase drawings of things in motion on the face of a twirling disk (the phenakistoscope, c. 1832) or inside a rotating drum (the zoetrope, c. 1834). Then, in 1839, Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, a French painter, perfected the positive photographic process known as daguerreotype, and that same year the English scientist William Henry Fox Talbot successfully demonstrated a negative photographic process that theoretically allowed unlimited positive prints to be produced from each negative. As photography was innovated and refined over the next few decades, it became possible to replace the phase drawings in the early optical toys and devices with individually posed phase photographs, a practice that was widely and popularly carried out.
There would be no true motion pictures, however, until live action could be photographed spontaneously and simultaneously. This required a reduction in exposure time from the hour or so necessary for the pioneer photographic processes to the one-hundredth (and, ultimately, one-thousandth) of a second achieved in 1870. It also required the development of the technology of series photography by the British American photographer Eadweard Muybridge between 1872 and 1877. During that time, Muybridge was employed by Gov. Leland Stanford of California, a zealous racehorse breeder, to prove that at some point in its gallop a running horse lifts all four hooves off the ground at once. Conventions of 19th-century illustration suggested otherwise, and the movement itself occurred too rapidly for perception by the naked eye, so Muybridge experimented with multiple cameras to take successive photographs of horses in motion. Finally, in 1877, he set up a battery of 12 cameras along a Sacramento racecourse with wires stretched across the track to operate their shutters. As a horse strode down the track, its hooves tripped each shutter individually to expose a successive photograph of the gallop, confirming Stanford’s belief. When Muybridge later mounted these images on a rotating disk and projected them on a screen through a magic lantern, they produced a “moving picture” of the horse at full gallop as it had actually occurred in life.
The French physiologist Étienne-Jules Marey took the first series photographs with a single instrument in 1882; once again the impetus was the analysis of motion too rapid for perception by the human eye. Marey invented the chronophotographic gun, a camera shaped like a rifle that recorded 12 successive photographs per second, in order to study the movement of birds in flight. These images were imprinted on a rotating glass plate (later, paper roll film), and Marey subsequently attempted to project them. Like Muybridge, however, Marey was interested in deconstructing movement rather than synthesizing it, and he did not carry his experiments much beyond the realm of high-speed, or instantaneous, series photography. Muybridge and Marey, in fact, conducted their work in the spirit of scientific inquiry; they both extended and elaborated existing technologies in order to probe and analyze events that occurred beyond the threshold of human perception. Those who came after would return their discoveries to the realm of normal human vision and exploit them for profit.
In 1887 in Newark, New Jersey, an Episcopalian minister named Hannibal Goodwin developed the idea of using celluloid as a base for photographic emulsions. The inventor and industrialist George Eastman, who had earlier experimented with sensitized paper rolls for still photography, began manufacturing celluloid roll film in 1889 at his plant in Rochester, New York. This event was crucial to the development of cinematography: series photography such as Marey’s chronophotography could employ glass plates or paper strip film because it recorded events of short duration in a relatively small number of images, but cinematography would inevitably find its subjects in longer, more complicated events, requiring thousands of images and therefore just the kind of flexible but durable recording medium represented by celluloid. It remained for someone to combine the principles embodied in the apparatuses of Muybridge and Marey with celluloid strip film to arrive at a viable motion-picture camera.
Such a device was created by French-born inventor Louis Le Prince in the late 1880s. He shot several short films in Leeds, England, in 1888, and the following year he began using the newly invented celluloid film. He was scheduled to show his work in New York City in 1890, but he disappeared while traveling in France. The exhibition never occurred, and Le Prince’s contribution to cinema remained little known for decades. Instead it was William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, working in the West Orange, New Jersey, laboratories of the Edison Company, who created what was widely regarded as the first motion-picture camera.
If you’re a movie fan, you’ve probably wondered, What’s the first movie ever made? This is a great question, and a somewhat complicated one.
In the late 1880’s various people began experimenting with photo, blending them together to give the illusion of a motion picture. But the technology and difficulty to capture that sort of video made motion pictures rare.
Even so, here are a couple of the very first movies:
The Horse In Motion (1878)
This groundbreaking motion photography was accomplished using multiple cameras and assembling the individual pictures into a a single motion picture. it’s something that you could do today, using a few cameras that are set to go off at an exact moment. The movie was made to scientifically answer a popularly debated question during this era: Are all four of a horse’s hooves ever off the ground at the same time while the horse is galloping? The video proved that they indeed were and, more importantly, motion photography was born.
Roundhay Garden Scene (1888)
The world’s earliest surviving motion-picture film, showing actual consecutive action is called Roundhay Garden Scene. It’s a short film directed by French inventor Louis Le Prince. While it’s just 2.11 seconds long, it is technically a movie. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is the oldest surviving film in existence.
Arrival of a Train (1895)
This 50-second silent film shows the entry of a train pulled by a steam locomotive into a train station of the French coastal town of La Ciotat. It’s a single, unedited view illustrating an aspect of everyday life, and the film consists of one continuous real-time shot. There’s also a an urban legend associated with this movie that says when the film was first shown, the audience was so scared by the image of a life-sized train barreling toward them that people screamed and ran to the back of the room.
Film and movie are two terms that often mean the same but used in distinctive ways. When used interchangeably, they both refer to a motion picture, a series of pictures projected onto a screen in such a way that viewers see an illusion of motion. Still, the words are not exactly synonyms. A person speaking or a written article would not use the two words at the same time, unless of course discussing the nuances of the words themselves. The distinctions often increase when the two are used in phrases. There seems to be a difference between a film critic and a movie critic. We say movie-goer and film viewing but we do not mix and match these two phrases.
When two words with the same meaning are used differently, the difference is usually due to changes in a language or due to demographics; this is true for ‘film’ and ‘movie’ as well. And because of the same meaning but nuanced usage, the two terms developed connotations and attitudes towards the words and the people who use them. More about these two words and their differences are discussed in the succeeding sections.
What is Film?
A film is a motion picture, and is an older term for it. Aside from its technical definition, a motion picture is a medium used to express stories, ideas and even feelings. As a medium for expression, it has evolved its own form of art called cinematography. Film is also the various, plastic materials, such as celluloid film, that serve as media where these motion pictures are imprinted, as opposed to the more modern digital media.
When referring to motion pictures, film is the preferred term among the people who work in the industry, such as producers and directors. It is also more often used by people outside of (but work closely with) the industry, such as the press and academics, especially in the written word. People in non-English speaking European countries such as Germany, France, and Italy also more commonly use film to refer to motion pictures.
Specific genres also use the term strictly, as in a documentary or a biography. Genres with a small audience or has a cult following also use the word film, such as an independent film. For other genres, being categorized as a film gives the motion picture an air of being well-produced and artistic. As a vehicle for ideas, films are made with a goal in mind and the result is usually educational, informative, or thought provoking. This usage of the word often gives films the connotation of artistry and formality but also a negative attitude of pretentiousness towards how the word is used in this sense.
What is Movie?
A movie is a motion picture, and the word itself is an American slang and shortened form of the phrase “moving pictures”. Even though it started as a slang term, it has come to wide acceptance and use, even in more formal settings. Movies also refer to the place where motion pictures are shown, used to mean the same as the movie theater, or the cinema.
The term is mostly used by consumers, the movie-goers. It is also mostly used in the spoken language rather than the written form. Non-native English speakers throughout the globe also use movie to refer to motion pictures, in large part due to the rise of Hollywood and the influence of American culture.
Movie genres usually take on nicknames, often uncomplimentary. For example, a romantic movie is often classified as a chick flick while a horror movie is called a scream fest. For a motion picture to be called a movie gives the motion picture the air of a low quality and low budget production. Movies are also generally produced for entertainment and profit. With how it is used, the term and the motion pictures themselves take on a connotation of commercialized momentary pleasures that are entertaining at best but are crass vulgar nonetheless.
Difference between Film and Movie
Film is an older term for motion pictures while movie is a newer term and is a short for moving picture.
Film is also the thin, plastic material, called celluloid, where pictures are imprinted while movies also refer to the place where motion pictures are shown.
Film is used more often in the written format while movie is more often used in the spoken language.
Film is used more often used by those who work in the industry, people who work closely with the industry and by non-English speaking European countries. Movie is used more often by consumers, Americans, and non-native English speakers.
Documentaries, biographies and motion pictures with cult followings such as indie films are often classified as films. Motion pictures that get pejorative monikers such as chick flicks and scream fests are often classified as movies.
A film is made usually with an educational, informative, or thought-provoking message. A movie is usually made to entertain and make a profit.
Usage of the word film has an artistic but pretentious connotation while usage of the term movie has a commercialized and crass connotation.
The director Robert Rodriguez is famous for getting his shooting done rather quickly. He has described his process as one long day of work, beginning with shots and moving into editing all within the same day. He likes to be able to review his work as it’s produced so that he knows what the final product might look like. Compare that to someone like George Lucas, who spends quite a bit of time and budget in post-production, and it’s easy to see that technology has taken film in very different directions.
Technology’s greatest impact is perhaps felt in new cameras that allow cinematographers to shoot in a higher definition, letting viewers take in more of the amazing work in set design. Technology also drives entire segments of film now, enabling movies that were not possible before. Here are some examples where technology has driven film making.
Film is the preferred medium of old school film makers, but it’s usually too costly for a studio to authorize. Film carries several disadvantages, that dwarf the authenticity that the film maker is going for. Aside from the expense, film is impossible to reuse. That means a day of shooting must have footage the crew can use, or else every resource consumed that day was a waste. The costs of film don’t end the day of shooting either. Cinematographers who use film must develop it, and then there is the costly process of editing the film.
Going digital largely means foregoing the large canisters of film that used to be synonymous with film making. It also means production companies complete their shoot schedules with less waste, keeping the entire project under or close to budget.
Post production is another area where digital trumps the usage of film. Adding visual effects to film was often a precise art, where the effect had to blend seamlessly with what was being shot. This was a painstaking process that editors no longer go through. Digital effects are created and added to the shot within the same program or family of programs. This software also allows editors to work on entire sections of a film, easily piecing scenes together after the post production effects are added in. That includes audio, which now has a high definition digital file that ensures the audience will hear every word and action that they see.
The end result is a piece of film that looks cleaner, with effects that blend seamlessly with the movie. The audience usually can’t tell when CGI has been used, but it’s a powerful tool film makers have increasingly used to set atmosphere.
Shooting in digital is much easier because you can do more in less time. Multiple cameras can run on the same shot, so you always get the angle you want without having to waste time on retakes. I like shooting digitally because it makes it easy to shoot multiple takes, and to get multiple angles more economically. A director’s bread and butter is pace and performance. I love being able to shoot everything. Even, with the actors’ permission, the rehearsals. You never know what pieces you’ll be able to use later in editing.
Coupled with the new steady cam equipment that film has taken a liking to, the end result is a more intimate shot. The audience feels present in the moment because the lens we are allowed to look through feels authentic. Film makers also spend less time re-shooting the same scene to get the right angle.
The process of distributing film in digital has not quite hit the apex of what it is capable of, but the indie film maker especially stands to gain. Distribution through YouTube has been the most common form of marketing for quite some time. Studios have released big-budget trailers, while indie film makers have sought funding and interested eyes posting content through various YouTube channels. Of course, the adverse affect is that quality has significantly declined, but that’s more a function of volume. YouTube users also crowd source what is popular with a thumbs up, helping others to find new and interesting content without spending too much time digging for it.
Rights to films are already distributed to consumers digitally, but this market has not been fully tapped. There is much debate as to the future of film consumption, but companies seem willing to distribute films online. The 2011 film Tower Heist with Ben Stiller was almost released to Comcast customers alongside the theatrical release, but the idea was scrapped after several theaters threatened not to show the film in protest. Although digital promises an exciting new world of distribution, the business of film has yet to catch up with this idea.
The preservation of film isn’t something we think about as consumers, but it’s the very reason we still have re-mastered copies of Ben Hurr and the Star Wars trilogy. Film will crumble and damage over time, and it’s extremely flammable too. There are simply too many methods for film to outlive its usefulness. Digital films can be stored on company servers, without taking up too much space. The costs to maintain this infrastructure are also lower than the costs to store and re-master film.
Digital archives are also easy to backup and restore. Pixar had a now famous incident when creating Toy Story 2, where one of the animators lost almost the entire film working on it at home thanks to a bad backup. Aside from this small gaffe, the backup system has allowed production companies access to earlier versions of a film, as well as a source to store shots used for dailies and extras.
Without technology, it would be nearly impossible for Hollywood to produce the volume of films that it does. Film might be a nice thought for that vintage feel, but the practicalities of digital have largely put the film versus digital debate to rest.
Charles Matthau, son of Walter Matthau, is a film and television director best known for adapting books into movies.
For the ill-fated casts and crews of these gory (and sometimes goofy) flicks, life imitates art in the worst ways possible.
Ti West ’s current hit X follows the cast and crew of a late-1970s porn film whose dreams of home-video glory are gruesomely waylaid while filming in rural Texas. The movie pays homage to horror notables, including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre , but it’s also part of a subgenre that’s basically “film shoot gone horribly, horribly awry.”
For this list, we’re gathering movies specifically about horror film crews who stumble into actual horror while on the job —and realize the movie they set out to make can’t compare to the real-world terror they find themselves immersed in. Note: this list could be all found-footage titles, but we’re going to mostly focus on narrative films here, with one notable exception.
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
Craven ’s meta-slasher imagines that Heather Langenkamp, who played Nancy Thompson in the Nightmare on Elm Street films, becomes drawn into supernatural events swirling around the latest entry in the series. Robert Englund plays both himself and a version of Freddy Krueger that’s actually an ancient demon, awakened by the Nightmare films and now determined to break into the “real” world. More recognizable faces pop up as well to help bleed the lines between “real” and “movie” worlds, including Craven himself. It’s high-concept, but it works well in this context, and it was a creative way to put a new spin on a franchise that, in 1994, was flagging out. just before Craven’s other meta-slasher, Scream, revived the genre entirely, of course.
Return to Horror High (1987)
Return to Horror High (1987)
Several years after a series of (unsolved) murders at a small-town high school, a low-budget film crew descends to make a movie about the tragedy titled Horror High, aiming to exploit the setting’s notoriety. Unfortunately for them, there’s still a vengeful maniac on the loose. but all is not what it seems in this horror comedy, which aims to spoof the genre while also being part of the genre, with schlocky gore effects (for both the “movie” and “real” settings) aplenty. The cast is fun, too: a very young George Clooney plays the production’s reluctant leading man, while Maureen “Marcia Brady” McCormick pops up as a cop.
The Last Horror Film (1982)
The Last Horror Film (1982)
The Last Horror Film reunites Maniac co-stars Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro in its tale of a New York cab driver obsessed with becoming a director. He’s also obsessed with one particular scream queen, whose new film just so happens to be titled Scream, so he grabs his camera and heads to the Cannes Film Festival to stalk his idol. and as it happens, people around her start dying in horrifying ways. But all is not what it seems in this horror comedy, either! Spinell consumes the scenery with his usual flair—except in the handful of scenes he shares with his character’s mother, played by Spinell’s actual mother, who gives him some serious competition for the spotlight.
One Cut of the Dead (2017)
One Cut of the Dead (2017)
OK, OK, as long as we’re piling on the “all is not what it seems” entries, here’s Shinichiro Ueda’s saga of a zombie film crew that realizes an actual zombie outbreak is happening while they’re filming. But! That ends up being only one small piece of this brilliant horror comedy (which has a remake floating around out there already ). Even if you know the twist, One Cut of the Dead is still a delight—a celebration of horror filmmaking that’s as energetic as it is clever.
Diary of the Dead (2007)
Diary of the Dead (2007)
Diary of the Dead might be the worst zombie movie George A. Romero ever made—but the fact that it is a Romero-made zombie movie at all means it’s noteworthy, and better than many imitators. At any rate, this is the horror veteran/pioneer/legend’s found-footage take on the genre he popularized, following a group of Pittsburgh film students (including future Orphan Black and She-Hulk star Tatiana Maslany) whose horror project is derailed when, well, you can probably guess. Unlike some other films on this list, there’s no twist at the end—just a lot of shaky-cam and apocalyptic foreboding.
A Cat in the Brain (1990)
A Cat in the Brain (1990)
Italian horror legend Lucio Fulci (The Beyond, Zombi 2) plays. Italian horror legend Lucio Fulci, who starts having trouble distinguishing between reality and his own mega-violent movies. A spontaneous visit to a psychiatrist helps Fulci ascertain that he’s somehow “breaking down the boundary” between reality and fiction, and the director’s soon plunged into a murder mystery that’s straight out of his own filmography. Is Fulci (who is really, really into consuming red meat in this movie, despite how triggering it is for him!) going mad, is someone sinister pulling the strings, or is the whole nightmare all part of his latest production (titled Nightmare Concert, the alternate title for A Cat in the Brain )? Fulci died just six years after this movie’s release, and A Cat in the Brain offers a self-reflexive look at his career in a way that’s both intriguing and—since it’s super-duper gory—very true to form.
The pandemic hit the American film industry hard. Consumer spending on movie tickets across the United States declined by nearly 80 percent between 2019 and 2020. This is likely to change as nationwide vaccination efforts continue and mobility restrictions are eased. By the end of March 2021, consumer spending on movie theaters in the U.S. started to increase. During a week in June 2021, for instance, expenditures grew by almost 120 thousand percent compared to the same period in 2020. Meanwhile, video streaming has become even more of a competitive platform. In mid-2020, less than one out of five Americans paid to watch premium video-on-demand (VOD) films that skipped the cinemas because of the coronavirus outbreak. A year later, about one-third reported doing so.
The outlook for American filmmaking
Despite the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the United States has a solid entertainment industry. Along with the sound recording segment, the field of motion picture employed about 257 thousand workers in the U.S. The strength of American moviemaking is projected to not only gain stability but to expand. The U.S. is among the top ten countries with the highest forecast growth rate of filmed entertainment revenue between 2019 and 2024, with an increase of over 25 percent estimated for that period. If that projection proves to be correct, the revenue of American filmed entertainment will add up to almost 32.5 billion U.S. dollars. That would be more than the results of China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Canada altogether.
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The COVID-19 Pandemic has had an impact on nearly all aspects of our lives, and the film industry is no exception. It’s estimated that the US box office alone will lose over $5 billion dollars this year, and many long-anticipated features have been pushed back indefinitely.
Movie theaters are by nature a high-risk environment, as they often pack hundreds of people into a small space together for extended periods of time. Additionally, it can be difficult and time-consuming to clean them, making them less than ideal for a highly contagious virus like COVID-19.
So how have businesses like movie theater chains and film production companies adjusted to these unprecedented times? Movie theaters have arguably been hit the hardest, and several major chains such as Cinemex have been forced to close down permanently. Even AMC, the largest chain in America, may be forced to file for bankruptcy. Some smaller chains and independent theaters have allowed small groups of people to book private screenings, in an attempt to earn some money. Several states have announced support for a socially-distanced reopening of theaters, but with distribution companies not releasing new films and most film-goers wary, it remains to be seen if many will reopen at all.
Several major and minor releases were forced to end their theatrical runs early as the COVID-19 pandemic grew worse earlier this year. Rather than wait months for digital and Blu-Ray sales to begin, some production companies decided to release their movies digitally early. Disney Pixar’s Onward released on Disney + barely a month after theatrical release, an unprecedented move from both the company and the industry.
Many new releases have been indefinitely postponed, as production companies would like to see them released in theaters instead of digitally. Some titles include Disney’s live-action Mulan remake, A Quiet Place Part II , and Wonder Woman 1984 . Production for virtually all films has also ground to a halt, with production of some films only just beginning to start up again in countries with low rates of infection.
Some production companies are attempting unorthodox measures to release films during these times. One such example was Universals’ Trolls World Tour which it released exclusively to digital rental instead of in theaters. It managed to earn over $100 million dollars in its first three weeks, leading Universal to announce that in the future it would release its movies simultaneously in theaters and on digital rental. This has led to tension between Universal and movie theater chains, with some threatening to not play Universal films in their theaters if this comes to be. What will happen, remains to be seen. A popular independent film festival, SXSW was cancelled. In response, Amazon Prime offered to host films that would have played there and pay the film makers. While few accepted over concerns with future distribution issues, nearly 40 accepted the offer.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not likely to go away anytime soon, and has forced most people to make dramatic, long-term changes to their lives. It’s cost the film industry a lot of money, and likely changed the way we watch new movies forever.