COVID-19 is changing the movie industry

COVID-19 has hit the film industry hard, with movie theaters across the country shut down and all current productions halted.

“It has stopped all movie production in Georgia,” said Seth Ingram, Division Chair of Film Studies at GHC. “It is absolutely at a standstill.”

According to Georgia Film Office Deputy Commissioner, Lee Thomas, “Film and television production activity has come to a virtual standstill not only in Georgia, but across the country, in a necessary response to halt the virus and save lives.”

Major studios, including Warner Bros and Disney, have pushed back summer release dates and postponed production on future projects, while other films are being released to digital streaming services early. Some movies, such as Disney’s “Onward” chose to forego the theater altogether and release straight to streaming services.

Ingram does expect to see theaters reopening, though he said it will be a “slow comeback.”

“I think that the theater model will come back, but for the last years anyway, the theater model has pretty much exclusively been for the Marvel movies and major films,” Ingram said. “There’s not a lot of money to be made for independent films on the theater market.”

COVID-19’s impact on the movie industry may lead to an increase in media consolidation: the concentration of ownership of media properties in the hands of a few large corporations.

“Netflix, I know, has been trying to go around and buy some of those smaller studios because they have content,” Ingram said. “You will see more acquisitions of production companies and that sort of thing.”

However, this isn’t the beginning of the end for independent films. In fact, Ingram said that it may create more opportunities for them.

“There’s an opening for independent filmmakers to fill the content void in the short term,” he said.

According to Thomas, “Georgia is well-positioned to remain a top production center…. While these are unprecedented times, we are hopeful that the impact to our film community is short-lived.”

“I just think when the industry comes back it is going to be a lot of opportunity,” Ingram said. “There’s going to be so many productions going on…. You may even see more films shot outside of the Atlanta area.”