By LAUREN LEE
Due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, Universal Pictures, one of America’s largest film companies, announced that theaters will no longer have a three month exclusive period to play their new movies – a break that may have lasting impacts on Hollywood and the movie industry. This decision will most likely transform Universal into a streaming company such as Netflix and look to online film distribution as a means to displaying its movies. Universal is releasing three movies already released in theaters to become available in homes for $20 and with a 48 hour rental period. These films include “The Hunt,” “The Invisible Man,” and “Emma.”
It is likely that larger film studios will be following in the same path as Universal, as theaters become more and more dangerous for patrons to sit down and enjoy movies. Some studios are looking to establish a pay-per-view model, which would allow people to watch new movies from home and pay a premium price for immediate access to those movies.
Many movie theater chains tried to operate, but were required to shut down after President Trump placed restrictions on public gatherings of over ten people. AMC, the nation’s largest chain, said that the guidelines made movie theater operations “essentially impossible.” In the US and Canada, ticket sales reached an ultimate low in the last 20 years.
“Black Widow,” one of the most highly anticipated films this year, has had its release date pushed back from May 1st, which may have a “cascading effect” on the rest of the MCU releases. Though many movies are moving online, it is unlikely that Disney will stray away from anything other than the cinema, so it’s postponement will have to stretch till a further date.
Netflix has been further utilizing the coronavirus outbreak to come up with safer and more efficient ways to enjoy movies and television. Recently, Netflix established a Google Chrome extension called Netflix Party, which will allow groups of friends to virtually gather to watch their favorite Netflix programs at the same time. The extension also comes equipped with a built in chat room that allows groups to communicate as the movie or television program is running.
Movie theater companies will be facing a lot of hardship and economic downfall during this time of global pandemic, but there are still options available to get access to movies and television shows online.