This article was originally published on December 14, 2020 on 6feet.com. Click here to see the original: https://6feet.com/has-covid-19-transformed-the-media-industry-for-good/

These days the world seems to change on a daily basis and we’re all just trying to keep up with it all. There were many changes to our lives when the pandemic started, social distancing, wearing masks and so on and so forth. But one thing that seems to have gotten overlooked by the general public is our viewing habits. The days of going out to the movies are now long behind us, and people have gotten more accustomed to consuming media and art in the comfort of their own home.

The only constant thing in the universe is change, and the media industry has tried to fight change, every chance they got. The trends we all took for granted are gone now. Some, potentially forever. It used to be that upwards of three new major movie pictures would be released in your local multiplex every Friday. But, now you’ll be lucky to find a multiplex open. The summer box office season was always an exciting time for the average movie goer, but no multimillion dollar blockbusters opened this year.

This year, movie studios like Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. had to hold their major releases until things got better. But when things didn’t get better, studios started to experiment. They attempted to adapt to an industry forced to change. This Christmas will see the release of both Wonder Woman 1984 and Soul on HBO Max and Disney+ respectively. For the first time ever, audiences can watch a major blockbuster picture from the comfort of their own home.

Warner Bros. even announced that they’ll release their entire 2021 movie slate on HBO Max for no extra cost. That was seen as a controversial move within the industry, and a brave one outside the industry. Now that audiences have spent upwards of eight months in their homes, consuming movies like Bill & Ted Face the Music and Mulan, they’ve grown used to it. Thanks to Amazon, audiences can rent movies like Love and Monsters and Come Away for only $20. All the above examples were going to be exclusive to theatres. A trip to the theatre could cost upwards of $20 a person, depending on the region, but instead, audiences are saving money; an important goal for so many in this time of covid. Consumer habits have changed and the entertainment industry has had to change with it.

One unexpected industry shift that had a major positive effect was the move to drive-in movies. Long thought, extinct, perhaps a relic of the past, the few drive-ins that still exist in the country have seen a resurgence. The comfort of your home sounds nice, but with all the distractions of pets, neighbors or even your phones, it’s nice to be able to get out of the house, “stretch your legs” (metaphorically speaking of course) and watch a movie, covid compliant. Drive-in movie theatres give audiences the same refuge that the average movie theatre experience gave, plus it’s generally cheaper and now, safer.

Most of the network TV shows are filming, and are set, during the pandemic, following CDC protocols. People don’t always want to be reminded of what’s going on out in the world. Media is often considered escapist art and these are days when viewers are hungry for a new world to escape into. Bill and Ted Face the Music was the perfect movie to come out during the pandemic, for example. A story about two loveable people trying to make the world a better place. Audiences were happy to escape back into the world of Bill and Ted where everything works out okay in the end. New worlds to escape to are more important now than ever and the entertainment industry is experimenting with how best to deliver these new worlds to the people who desire them.

Our wants and needs have changed dramatically during this time. It’s possible these changes may be permanent. There is no doubt that theatres will bounce back in some way, but right now the important thing is to remain safe and to inform and entertain. It’s exciting to have something to look forward to. People like talking about the “ next new thing”. With most TV shows these days set during the pandemic, it’s nice to be able to flip on a new movie, or go out to a drive-in and escape into a “new world” for a couple hours.

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