• Ellis Barthorpe

Too many push backs...and other pandemic related groans

Now more than ever, people need to laugh and cry and embrace other worlds. With the closure of so many cinemas again recently it left me upset and confused. Why, when new films are still being released are production companies choosing to avoid cinemas? Why are so many films being delayed? And which film needs to bite the bullet and be the next big cinema release?


1. Why Tenet didn't work...

Tenet was supposed to be the big film to put bums in seats and get the public munching loudly on popcorn once again. But with it underperforming at the box office (making just $20 million in the US on it's opening weekend) other studios have pulled their films from being released on the big screen. Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. Pictures took a risk being the first to release their film amidst a global pandemic. But other companies, who were expected to follow suit, were not willing to take the same risk when seeing how little profit Tenet managed to make.

It left me wondering, had No Time to Die or Black Widow had been the first, both belonging to a wider franchise that already has a huge audience, people probably would have been more likely to go out. Obviously still at this moment the world is an uncertain place and people understandably don't feel safe going to indoor public spaces such as cinemas, but I don't think Tenet could have ever been big enough to get people back.

Yes Nolan is an incredible filmmaker and he has a large following of critics and fans who love and appreciate his mind-bending movies, but the average person won't have actually heard of Tenet and therefore won't be tempted to visit. A big franchised, blockbuster movie belonging to the Bond series however, may have just been enough to get more people to whip on their masks, squirt on the hand-san, and take a trip out.


2. The worry with streaming platforms

The closure of cinemas and limited film releases has left people searching on streaming sites such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Don't get me wrong through intense lockdown it was these sites that kept me, like many others, from going insane. (The drop of Disney+ was particularly appreciated.) But now that more of us are using these streaming sites, more production companies are being led to believe that this is how we want to consume all of our media.

The live action remake of Mulan is a key example that springs to mind. Although it was an extra cost for Disney+ subscribers of £20.00 people were still intrigued by the prospect of watching a brand new film from the comfort of their homes. But with Mulan still making less than Tenet did, surely this says something about cinema. There are still those among us that would prefer to see all new releases on the big screen, there's nothing like that experience. Should more producers and filmmakers fall victim to the more cost-effective, less risky move of releasing their pictures on streaming sites, there won't be the cinemas to attend.

It is also a shame for the films themselves. I know that the quality of Mulan would have increased on a bigger screen, and should films such as Wonder Woman 1984 or Dune decide to take a similar route, it really will dampen the experience.

The point is, production companies aren't sending their movies to cinemas and are therefore delaying their projects, because there's nobody attending the cinema. But there's nobody attending the cinema, because there's no films to go and watch.


3. The delay game

Almost every major release has been pushed back to the jam-packed 2021. Dune, Black Widow, West Side Story, Death on the Nile, The King's Man , Raya & The Last Dragon and No Time to Die were set for a 2020 release until very recently. And this excitement that has built in moviegoers has been crushed, leaving most less than ecstatic about the new dates. Yes, it is completely understandable why the films have decided to do it: they won't make the money back and therefore the film will be at a loss. But the delaying of literally everything will surely be a detriment in the long run.

Say three major movies were set for release every month in 2020, and now they've been pushed back to 2021 which also has three major movies set for release every month, now there will be six major releases each month (it's basic maths). Now an avid cinema-goer who maybe would have gone to see 1-3 movies a month has to make more choices, and the films that aren't picked will suffer because of it. I am fully aware that a lot of movies originally set for release in 2021 have been delayed to 2022 but there's still many that haven't.

Just take the MCU alone. Currently, all the projects they are releasing in 2021 are as followed: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, Loki, What If?, Hawkeye and Spider-Man 3. Now yes half of these are TV shows set for release on Disney+ but this is a lot of information for Marvel fans to consume and a fair bit of money for them to spend. Now, I for one won't mind in Marvel's case as I'm such a huge fan but I know for some people this is going to be a major turn-off.


4. Which release needs to bite the bullet?

Now if you'd have asked me this a few weeks ago I would have said the next instalment to the Bond franchise, No Time to Die. The films are fun, familiar, exhilarating, and it's a couple of hours in a story that people know they're going to enjoy. I was confident, after seeing the final trailer that it wasn't going to budge from it's November release date. As the big bold font splattered across the screen and the exceptional set piece showing Daniel Craig jumping from a bridge, I thought this is it! This is the film that's going to get people back to the cinema. But then that dreaded Covid got in the way and butchered that idea.

Then, the news broke that Pixar's Soul was to be released on Disney+ at no extra cost. This one was a head-scratcher to me. If Pixar and Disney are so confident in the film that they don't have to apply an additional charge, why could they not have released it in cinemas too. Release the film in cinemas on it's original November date, and then make it available for everybody else on Christmas Day. That way the dedicated cinema-goer, such as myself, would be able to see the film (that shows resemblance in animation and concept to the visually stunning Inside Out) on the big screen, and those that don't feel safe/can't afford the trip can see it at the slightly later date.

News of the World and Dreamland are still on course for a cinema release this year. One of them in November, and the other December, but with neither of them looking to be the biggest moneymaker, regardless of the pandemic, this is only going to fuel filmmaker's nervousness even more.

Personally, if I were a huge mega-company like Disney, I'd be tempted to release one of their many pictures on the big screen as well as Disney+. This way other production companies can gage the success and realise that perhaps the more films they release, the more confidence will be gained.


5. The Conclusion

Who knows what the future of cinema is going to bring? I for one am hopeful that come the Spring of 2021, the big films that have been planned for Easter weekend and the dates surrounding it will pave the way for the smaller, independent projects to follow after. Before we know it, we'll be standing up for the toilet 10 minutes into the film because we've guzzled our drinks in the trailers; we'll be frantically trying to retrieve our tickets from a deep pocket that we didn't know we had; and we'll be laughing, crying and embracing that cinematic world that we know and love. Because now, more than ever, I think we need it.

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