The Trickle-Down Effect of Delaying James Bond
The delay of the latest James Bond instalment, one of many shifting-release dates announced during the pandemic, has far-reaching ramifications, not least for the licensing industry.
While it is true that the industry is no longer solely depending on the summer blockbuster, with more and more licensing programs with their origins in YouTube, web-series, Netflix and so on, mega-hits released on the big screen by everyone from Disney to Universal mean a constant reassuring presence in our industry. Streaming services are increasingly releasing the big movies on the small screen – but this has hit the entertainment industry, chiefly cinemas, right where it hurts.
Many will argue this is the way of the future – no longer will crowds flock to movie theatres to catch the latest instalment of a beloved franchise, no longer will they wait months for a DVD release and the following merchandise.
Cineworld in has announced the closure of 128 cinemas, meaning thousands of jobs will not exist. This is a very real effect of the year of Covid, and a sobering reality for many.
The Batman will no longer see its release next year; and Matrix 4 has also announced a long delay. The latest instalment of Jurassic World will now not debut until 2022. High hopes for Top Gun, Peter Rabbit,
Of course, no-one can predict a virus, and this coronavirus has certainly taken the world and shaken it upside down.
The Financial Times called the delay of James Bond a ‘major blow’ to Hollywood and while some argue that the capability of mass movie release exists in the form of streaming platforms, most of these big-budget busters are simply too expensive to be diverted to streaming. Studios also face the problem of losing an audience – people become invested in characters and universes, and the excitement of anticipation for the next instalment dissipates slightly when the wait is potentially a couple of years.
Is it an arrogance, a lack of willing to change and to adapt – that movie studios insist their productions can only be enjoyed on the big screen? Is it a complete lack of foresight when looking at all the trickle-down effects of delays? The VOD revolution is certainly already happening – but what is the cost for the people behind the movies?
In an extremely difficult year, it is very difficult to predict. People say they want to just ‘go back to normal’.
However, analysts and economists seem to be coming together to appreciate that the normal we once knew could possibly be no more. The virus has accelerated vast and sweeping changes that were already occurring – and every part of the chain needs to react accordingly. But that is easier said than done, and only the coming months and years will tell what the true effect.
On the flip side, could this be a real chance for the industry to embrace the smaller independent productions? The creatives and smaller production companies have an opportunity here to roll with the digital trend and eschew the more traditional routes.