Hollywood needs to beat the bug, and fast.
2020 has been the worst year in Hollywood history thanks to COVID-19. We saw seismic shifts in the way people watch movies, in the decline of theatrical, and in the very nature of our business, which was rattled to its core. It's no wonder why Tom Cruise is screaming on set. Everything has changed.
Even during WWII and even after Sept. 11, people went to the theaters for comfort and escapism. This year, we were kept home, away from a communal celebration of the arts. It hurt us deeply, and it hurts Hollywood too.
Let's take a look at the major headlines.
We saw Warner Bros. basically push all its major releases to a new format in 2021, which has them debuting on HBO Max while also in theaters. With theatrical in general, we saw most titles push out of this year, even after studios spent millions on P&A.
This angered filmmakers and saddened much of the public. It was exciting to get new entertainment, but it made many of us sink deeper into a depression, missing the crunch of popcorn and the sound of a buzzing audience around us.
I watched a lot of movies at the drive-in... it was fun, but I had to keep my windshield really clean.
Tenet underperformed, and most theaters stayed closed and didn't screen it at all. The domestic box office is down nearly 80% from last year.
On the production side, the Los Angeles Times reported "enhanced cleaning and staffing for coronavirus prevention could add more than $1 million to a typical movie budget." That canned many indie titles and made financiers and producers change course on lots of projects.
We saw movies like Mission: Impossible 7 and The Batman delayed due to cast and crew catching COVID. And what happened to those people who were out of work because movies were delayed or even canceled?
They lost their jobs, livelihoods, and sometimes even homes. We had guilds scrambling to find solutions for out-of-work individuals, and there were no real solid solutions.
There's hope on the horizon. The vaccine is already being administered to frontline workers, and you have to assume that as soon as we get the workers out of the way, Hollywood will find a way to be next in line.
But there's a lot to be done for the future. Many early estimates put the collective studio losses this year in the billions, while streamers flourished. Not only does Hollywood have to find a new way forward, but it has to work in conjunction with theater owners, or we're going to lose them.
This is a lot to tackle, but there's even more. We faced a true test in America this year. People finally came to face race relations head-on. There were so many conversations started that got paused by the pandemic, so Hollywood needs to come together to make sure voices are not ignored or cast aside when the business reopens.
This is going to take an effort from every facet of the business. We need to make sure we get back to safe productions and employ people. We need to follow #PayUpHollywood and make sure assistants are given a living wage that's fair with the hours they put in.
This was a tough year for everyone. We have to come back better, or we may never come back at all.
What are you hopeful for in 2021? Let us know what you think in the comments.