Ava Dettling '20
Have you ever imagined a love scene between two mannequins? Well, lucky
you, because that might just be what awaits the film industry. Due to the pandemic,
Hollywood has taken drastic measures to halt filming for the last 7 months. TV shows
have been cancelled because of lack of funding, release dates have been endlessly
extended, and theaters have been shut down; the entertainment industry is at a dead
However, it couldn’t be completely snuffed. Actors have come together in Zoom
reunions to perform table reads from many beloved classics, such as Princess Bride
and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston shared an
unbearably awkward interaction as Morgan Freeman narrated the famous pool scene of
the latter. While these reunions warmed the hearts of movie-lovers everywhere, if I
wanted to see awkward dynamics over Zoom, I would have watched the 2020 One
As much of the nation enters Phase 2 of recovery, Hollywood has opened up its
loving arms to a cold wall of heavy restrictions and safety precautions. The social
isolation we’re all so familiar with is now seeping into the silver screen: actors will no
longer be allowed within 6 feet of each other, casts will lean to less vulnerable age
groups, like children, there won’t be any crowd scenes, real-world set locations will be
limited, instead gravitating to more filming outdoors, and less involved on-screen
relationships. Get excited for some mannequin loving. The lamentable state of America
at the moment has sparked thoughts of overseas production. Directors of the new
Matrix 4 have caught on and are now filming in Berlin.
Like a dagger to my indie-loving heart, the pandemic has suppressed much of
Independent and Arthouse movie production due to lack of funds. While many movie
industries are struggling, blockbusters and mainstreams are definitely coming out on
top. Much of current film revenue is due to large-scale screenplay adaptation rather
than original screenplays, evident from the recent live-action release of Mulan.
Speaking of, release methods took a substantial hit during quarantine. Production
companies were forced to either extend the theatrical release dates until the end of the
pandemic, or resort to home releases through streaming services. Mulan recently
released to Disney+ for a hefty $30 in addition to a Disney+ subscription. As select
movie theaters have hesitantly opened up, producers were met with another
disappointment. As opposed to the typical 74-day theatrical window (the period between a theatrical release and a home release), only 17 days have been given to companies desiring a release in theaters.
With all these restrictions and filming only having recently begun, I’m not hopeful
on the movie selection for the next year. However, it has forced the industry to get
creative. I believe we’ll see an influx of films relying on pure dialogue and storytelling to
get around these restrictions. Particularly, more paranoia and psychological horror
movies. In order to navigate health precautions and low budgets, the horror genre will
revert to good old-fashioned mental torture. The found-footage trend could make a
comeback, putting out more movies like The Blair Witch Project. Even though many say the indie genre will struggle, I think this genre offers the most flexibility and safest
environments for cast & crew. For example, the Before trilogy has modeled surprisingly desirable pandemic conditions despite being made between 1995 and 2013. The cast for all three movies essentially consisted of two people, the entire premise was a long conversation over a walk through a city, and each film only took between 15-25 days to film. Under these guidelines, less actors are at risk and there is less opportunity for infection. Additionally, it’s a lot cheaper. However, these are my favorite movies, so it could just be a subconscious wish for more of them.
In all honesty, the film industry has been declining way before they had to deal with a global pandemic. Big production companies like Warner Bros and Universal were releasing 25 movies a year into theaters, but they only released 9 in 2019. With increasingly competitive streaming services, the movie-goer numbers and ticket sales have stayed stagnant since 1995. If there is anything good to come out of this lull, it forces creativity and innovation in the film industry and subversion of their traditionally set-in-stone methods. Perhaps it will be the necessary shake-up we’ve all been waiting for, or maybe it will churn out some laughably awkward movies. Who knows?
The content of this article, as with every article posted on The Exchanged, does not represent the views of the staff of The Exchanged nor the National Cathedral School, St. Albans School, Protestant Episcopal Foundation, or any employee thereof. Opinions written are those of the writer and the writer alone.