With the latest delay of James Bond, Cineworld cinemas have decided to close their doors until further notice. For smaller cinemas that had to rely upon crowdfunding to stay afloat, the delay of such a massive title could be the final nail in their coffin. Not only does the delay have enormous implications for cinemas across the country, but it is also affecting the entire film industry. There has been a domino effect on other potential releases, delaying 'Dune' until 2021 and pushing 'The Batman' as far back as 2022. The scenario is one large vicious circle where no-one wins. Cinemas won't open without big movies to draw in crowds, and companies are holding off releasing films because there are no crowds to watch them.
With it becoming harder for the general public to access cinemas, streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, have seen considerable increases in user activity. After all, why would you want to go to a socially distanced, mask mandated viewing when you could enjoy it from the comfort of your home? As someone who has been to the cinema several times throughout this pandemic, for me, the new cinema experience is, in a word, strange. You sit isolated in a massive hall with only a handful of other patrons. Though this means you don't have to squeeze through a tight lane of disgruntled cinema-goers to get to your seat, there is a distinct lack of atmosphere. Part of the draw of going to the cinema as opposed to just watching it at home is the experience. You share every twist, laugh and piece of explosive action with your fellow cinema-goers. It is an experience that you don't get with only a half a dozen people separated by social distancing. The magic is missing for me, though I'm sure if you enjoy watching a movie in peace, this change is a blessing in disguise.
But now it seems that watching movies at home could be changing as well. Disney Plus has introduced its new Premier Access scheme. This new system means that users that have already paid for their Disney Plus subscription can pay extra to gain early access to new movies. They launched this new system alongside their live-action remake of 'Mulan', that cost users an additional £19.99 to access. Is this to become the new norm? Will other streaming services adopt a similar strategy to drain every last penny from their consumers? With the multitude of different streaming platforms available, that would mean people would have to fork out for several monthly subscriptions AND pay the extra costs for new movies.
Despite production companies pushing back their release dates, fearing the losses that might occur, the only losers are the general public. COVID has changed life in so many unpredictable ways, so it is impossible to determine what is in store for the future of cinema.