The cinema is dead! Odeon, Cineworld and Picturehouse cinemas have all closed their doors for the foreseeable future, but what finally did it? Was it Television? VOD? Hell, did DVD’s make a comeback all of a sudden? The answer is none of these things; instead it’s an unknown brand of flu that’s spread around the world. This news comes just a day after Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, stated that the government won’t support mass gathering and that the public should avoid bars, restaurant and the theater. A tactical political move on the part of the scruffy haired supine invertebrate protoplasmic jelly of a PM we have, as he passes on the responsibility of closing any such things onto the venues and events themselves. Fortunately, cinema chains were willing to take the hit and did the noble thing of closing their doors, however there are many questions left to be answered.
As an Odeon Limitless member, I’m left to wonder what will happen in regards to my annual membership. For those who don’t know what Limitless is, it’s a monthly cost membership that gains you unlimited amount of cinema visits and 10% off food and drink, other cinemas have their own similar membership schemes also. Having checked my emails, Odeon shall not charge me and rightfully so, which leads me to wonder what this means for them financially. Cinemas already struggle as it is, taking only a small percentage of the box office; most of the money goes back to the film production and distribution companies. You ever wondered why popcorn is ludicrously expensive? It’s because that is where the cinema itself makes their money, now you know.
Also what will happen to the current and upcoming film releases? Universal have made the interesting move to put their current films including the Dark Universe’s The Invisible Man and the Jane Austen adaptation Emma, onto VOD by the weekend. Will other film companies follow suit? Well, Disney have put Onward on Disney+ just 2 weeks after its theatrical release, so its very likely this will continue to happens as the world continues to lock down in the months that follow. There are solutions to film distribution, but what will happen to film and television production? Film and TV rely on mass gatherings of people in order to get them made so will they shut down costing conglomerates hundreds of millions of dollars and putting thousands of freelancers out of employment? Or will they continue production? Most likely the latter as we are seeing an increasing amount of shut downs and thousands of documented job loses. Either way it’s safe to say we’ll have to wait a while for our next fix of Marvel movie madness and to see how Stranger Things finally ends.
As a film student, maker and critic, I’m worried about what will happen to smaller independent films and cinemas. This virus and the insane measures imposed worldwide, are going to have a disastrous effect on the global economy as a whole which smaller businesses simply won’t survive. SXSW was cancelled suddenly almost bankrupting the event organizers, forcing them to postpone the event from their inability to refund tickets. Not only that, Cannes film festival has been postponed and the fate of Sundance film festival also hangs in the balance. Whilst we are on the subject of postponing events, Glastonbury and Coachella are just two festivals that have postponed their event to a later date, whilst countless musical artists have either postponed or cancelled tours all together, I personally had the bands I Prevail and A Day to Remember postpone shows on me. As if Brexit wasn’t bad enough on the music industry.
Overall, the biggest question I’m asking myself at the moment is; what will be there for the living when it’s all said and done? The cost of this virus runs deeper than the deaths of the elderly and those with weaker immune systems and I say this as a man with elderly grandparents, a diabetic father and a terminally ill mother. It’s understandable for you to be scared and worried, the world is locking down because of an unknown new disease, however, this is being used by the media to scaremonger and they have us right where they want us. Calm down, stop panic buying and hoarding toilet paper, that isn’t going to help things. The human race will survive this virus; however some business, music, film and other entertainment outlets’ won’t. Wash your hands you detty pigs.