A summer without blockbusters?

by Megan Bianco

As if it hasn’t already been said enough these past two months, one of many unprecedented firsts to come out of the coronavirus pandemic is the loss of theatrical movie releases — meaning most movies are postponed indefinitely.

Traditionally, the summer movie season starts at the beginning of May and we would have had a couple of blockbusters in theaters by now if it were any other year. Marvel is generally the first to kick off the big cinematic season, and this year they were supposed to give us “Black Widow” on May 1 (now rescheduled for November).

Christopher Nolan’s much anticipated new film, “Tenet,” now has more pressure than any other motion picture in history to either stick to being the first studio feature to open in July or officially reschedule like everyone else.

So, what exactly are movie fans going to do for the next four warm, sunny months while the world slowly re-opens? Some studios have opted for streaming services as a last minute resort for smaller films (and “Trolls: World Tour”). Michael Showalter’s “The Lovebirds” and Nisha Ganatra’s “The High Note” went from likely getting modest theatrical releases to modest VOD releases instead.

It’s easier for small budget films to settle on digital platforms because less money is expected to be spent on production and marketing. But for huge yearly releases, like Disney’s live-action “Mulan” or “Wonder Woman 1984,” they’re more reluctant to trust viewers to actually pay full price at home for each viewing experience when one payment can be taken advantage of by a whole house of people.

Or even worse, there’s the fear of the common trend of movies getting posted to piracy sites only hours after the film’s digital release. Even if your preference leans to solitary home viewing versus the social viewing experience of a theater, it’s hard to deny that the latter isn’t more financially secure for the film industry in general.

In the meantime, film fanatics can do what they usually do for personal viewing outside of the theater: revisit our favorite summer or vacation themed flicks, or watch older films we haven’t seen before. A cliché by this point, but what else can you do when the options are still slim pickings?

Megan Bianco

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