2021: The Year Movies Return

Box office revenue dropped 80% last year as Covid turned Hollywood on its head. With vaccinations an apparent game changer, the industry is optimistic about its next chapter.

IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond tells Yahoo Finance he’s thinking the plot might thicken this summer as movie releases originally scheduled for 2020 are being lined up on the runway for a 2021 release, movies like “Top Gun Maverick,” “Fast and Furious 9,” and “Black Widow” expected to pack the house.

Ultimately, says Variety Magazine Film Critic Joe Leydon, who teaches Film Studies at the University of Houston, movie going is communal. “There will always be people who want to see movies with other folks to pick up the vibe, to share the reaction, the scream of fright, the roar of laughter.”

Theaters are still restricted in attendance based on the Covid numbers in their community, but when they are fully opened again, it will be under a new paradigm wholly influenced by an experience not entirely unlike the plot of the movie “Contagion.” Long-standing contracts and accepted industry standards established relationships between the people who make and distribute films with the theater chains and owners who show them, guaranteeing those theater owners a safe haven of time between theatrical release dates and downstream tertiary releases to viewing-on-demand, video or streaming. That paradigm on which everything has been based for the better part of 50 years collapsed in one year, and it’s anyone guess how it will shake out.

Streaming services like HBO Plus, Hulu, Netflix and Disney+ slayed the dragon. Paramount is piling on.

Paramount+ debuts March 4, another streaming service opportunity. Many are calling it CBS All Access by another name, which it kind of is, but it will include new programming from Viacom cable channels like Nickelodeon and Comedy Central combined with hundreds of movies from Paramount Studios.

“Paramount Plus network is hammering out an arrangement so that even blockbusters like Mission Impossible movies will be available on that streaming service 45 days after they open in theaters,” Leydon tells KTRH News.

Movies have always been an avenue to escapism, and 2020’s enduring impact on the film industry is something many are anxious to escape. Soon, the lights will dim, audiences will stir through reminders to turn off cell phones and visit concession sites, and we’ll be transported again to imaginary worlds where endings are happy and the guy gets the girl.

In Asia, where Covid cases are low and restrictions have been eased, movie theaters have been going gangbuster. Audiences are so hungry for a return to normal, several of the movies released in the past year have jumped to the top 10 releases of all time in box office sales.

That’s the happy ending we’re looking for.

photo: Getty Images

Frightened Hispanic family watching film in movie theater

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