Covid 19 pandemic hit the world by the end of 2019 and forced the world to go into complete lockdown in 2020, for a total of two years severely affecting various businesses and people. There was a severe impact not only on people’s lives but also on their livelihoods. People lost their jobs; several companies were forced to shut down and many families were destroyed.
One of the industries which were severely affected by the lockdown was the entertainment and film industry. It is estimated that the film industry lost billions of dollars owing to this lockdown. Several small theatres were either forced to shut down or some in big cities lent their theatres for private screenings to a bunch of people.
Several multiplexes were forced to shut down as public gatherings were banned. For approximately one year, there was a complete shutdown in India and hence, movies were not released in multiplexes, also keeping in mind that the cinema theatres are difficult to sanitize. Even when, the lockdown was lifted and movies were allowed to premiere in halls, many people due to fear, chose not to go and opted for online streaming.
Production of many films was indefinitely shut down or postponed as it was difficult to shoot in such conditions. Many producers and directors chose online platforms to release their movies and online streaming platforms gained immense popularity during the lockdown. Small threaters were forced to shut down, but I think the most affected were the common people who work behind the scenes and who work very small but important roles in the movie industry.
Makeup crew, lighting crew, spot boys, and many others who were daily workers and whose livelihood completely depended on these films, lost their jobs due to this indefinite shutdown. It’s true that big companies suffered a lot and endured a lot of loss but those who struggled the most were the common man.
There are already a large number of people who wants to be an actor and with this lockdown, with the decreased number of films being made the unemployment in people reached new heights. Even after the lockdown is lifted people are being cautious of the kind of projects they choose to take up, since the profit is not guaranteed for many small films, and hence, lesser number of job opportunities for the new talents.
The way the movies were promoted by actors and producers also changed a lot. Face-to-face press conferences and promotional activities were stopped and actors retorted to doing interviews and promotions online, collaborating with various content creators and news channels. Since the audience of such channels has reached a mass number of people, actors and producers often prefer this type of promotion more now, rather than the original in-person promotional events and fan meetings.
One thing that made an immense profit from this lockdown was online streaming platforms. Almost every movie was being released on these OTT platforms and they gained a lot of popularity during this lockdown. Now, even after the lockdown is lifted many people are opting to choose Netflix and Hotstar over movie theatres as it is more convenient and cheaper for them.
Some Growth in Film Industry
With the smaller number of movies and tv series being released in the lockdown, old shows and movies gained immense popularity. Shows like Ramayana gained immense popularity and viewership in the lockdown.
With this television channels like DD and star plus did quite well which somewhat lost their touch during the boom of the internet. Another thing that did quite well and gained an immense following was content creators on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. Small reels and videos which can be made and edited from the comfort of home profited content creators a lot.
It is now also difficult for producers to obtain insurance for their films. Insurance companies now often include a clause where they mention that they will not cover losses caused by covid 19 pandemic or any other such disease.
The process of getting insurance is getting more complex and costly. Also, since the profit-making of many small-budget films has reduced so people have removed many people from their jobs and taken in such people who can perhaps do different roles or are multitaskers.
The road to recovery is still long and unclear. The world should be prepared for future such pandemics. It is quite possible that the world might never recover 100 per cent from this pandemic, and our only goal should to be vaccinate as many people as possible and try to achieve herd immunity, but still, many people will have their apprehensions and fears that will not allow the industry to return to its original state.
It is also a big task for the screening halls and multiplexes to make sure that they are taking all the safety precautions required before airing any film. Sanitization is a big task in itself considering how many people from different parts come together to watch a movie in an enclosed environment.
Many big production houses have launched their own OTT platforms where they have decided to air their movies and shows, and still, many are trying to go more digital. It is obvious that OTT platforms, the film industry, and movie theatres have to work together in the future so they can find a way to sustain each other and help each other survive in this ecosystem.