Coronavirus Sickens Entertainment Industry, Too


The coronavirus has hit the entire world pretty hard> And one corner of societythat’s been deeply impacted is the entertainment industry. Even as the public seems to be seeking out more entertainment options, the folks who create them are suffering mightily.

We obviously haven’t been doing our usual Monday box-office wrap-up in this space for the last couple of weeks, and that’s because, according to Newsweek, more than 80% of the country’s 6,000 theaters have closed down. Shares for the major movie theater chains have plummeted: Cinemark USA shares, for instance, are down around 70%, according to Newsweek. Another major chain, AMC, may not survive the downturn, experts say. Some experts suggest the industry as a whole could lose $10 billion.

And of all the entertainment big dogs hurt by the virus, it’s a mouse that may suffer the most.

Disney has become the world’s biggest blockbuster factory. Last year, it earned a record $11.1 billion globally from its movies alone, and it was responsible for seven of 2019’s eight highest-grossing flicks. Disney hoped that Onward would be the start of another banner year—but it was released just as concerns about the coronavirus were growing. It’s earned just $61.6 million in theaters and is already out on VOD, with its launch on Disney+ scheduled for this Friday. Hard to break box-office records when no one’s going to the box office.

Sure, you’d think that Disney+ subscriptions would be going through the roof right now (as would be those of most streaming services). But Disney’s theme parks around the world—a cornerstone of the Disney entertainment empire—are shut down and could be closed through June, some say. Analysts believe that Disney could lose $3.4 billion from its theme-park division alone. With a recession in the offing and with people perhaps initially reluctant to rub elbows with strangers even in a post-coronavirus world, you’re talking some pretty serious stress for the Happiest Places on Earth.

“Theaters and theme parks are most vulnerable,” Tuna Amobi, an industry analyst at financial advisory firm CFRA told Newsweek. “The impact will be extremely significant. The company with the biggest exposure to China is Disney because of its parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai.”

We all know that the releases of plenty of movies have been postponed, some indefinitely. But production of movies and television shows—stuff we wouldn’t see until late this year, 2021 or later—has ground to a halt as well. More than 100 television shows have stopped making new episodes, in fact.

Obviously, the whole crisis is a bit unprecedented, but that’s particularly the case for the entertainment industry. Moviedom’s Golden Age took place during the teeth of the Great Depression. When soldiers and sailors went off to World War II in the 1940s, Hollywood was still at work, churning out classics like Casablanca and It’s a Wonderful Life. The Cold War was a boon for science fiction. In the wake of 9/11, America eased its fears with fantasies franchises such as The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

But it’s not as if a nervous America is forgoing movies altogether. We’re still watching plenty of them—online. And here at Plugged In, we’ll try to keep you as in the loop as we can with what’s new, what’s popular and what you can watch with your families.

But personally, I can’t wait to start serving up puns in our weekly box-office wrap again.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Edna Konrad 11 months ago
Meanwhile I don't care because I get all my entertainment from Gwent and obscure YouTube channels lol.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

@Julienne Dy
But what if the school bully had been getting away with stuff like that for years? Are we not allowed to be a little glad that he finally got what he deserved?

And yeah, I’m well aware that everyone is going through rough times right now; my own college is refunding all students money since they no longer live on campus. But just because we’re living in a time of misfortune doesn’t mean some good can’t come out of it (case in point: remembering to wash our hands).
Julienne Dy 11 months ago
Maybe I'm just letting my own personal experiences influence my assessment again.  I've gotten in more trouble from laughing at other kids' punishments than I ever had from putting up with bullies.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

That’s fair. That’s happened to me a little in the past as well.

All I want is for Disney to stop squashing the competition without putting in any effort. If their  movies were good (and some of them are), I wouldn’t have a problem with them making so much money. But the thing is, they’re not.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Also, it's interesting though how where movies are struggling, the video game industry is thriving in a way; the Nintendo Switch is sold out everywhere and Animal Crossing: New Horizons is selling incredibly well. A lot of people have joked about how video gamers will be A-OK during the quarantine, but to be honest, the jokes aren't false! And with Resident Evil 3 and Final Fantasy VII Remake coming out within the next two weeks, it looks like everyone on all current consoles is going to be set for awhile!

Too bad LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga isn't coming out anytime soon...

@Plugged In
You guys should make a list of video games that families and/or older kids can play during the quarantine.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Good. The EA of Hollywood is getting its just desserts.

I understand that there are bad things about Disney losing money, but hearing that they're losing money is almost refreshing in a sort of way. Every year since 2012 (with the exception of 2014), Disney has come out on top, and I'm just tired of it. Every month we're hearing the headlines "Disney rules the box office" or "Disney now owns everything" and it's just not fun to talk about anymore.
[removed] 11 months ago
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Anonymous 11 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Because Disney is getting too big for its own good. They're making money hand over fist with nearly every movie they release, and with them not being challenged by any of the competition (and in some cases BUYING the competition), they are now just free to kick back and not even try to give us the best experience that they can possibly give us.

Instead of taking a risk on something that could either fail big time or be hugely successful, they just remake The Lion King shot by shot and still charge us $12 for entry (even though it's the exact same movie from 25 years ago). That's why I care, because I'm not getting movies like Saving Mr. Banks anymore and instead I'm getting live action versions of their animated movies and a diet version of the original Star Wars trilogy.

Disney has the resources to take risks and try something different and break the mold, but because playing it safe rakes in the dough, that's exactly what they do, and that's why them making mountains of cash affects not just me, but all moviegoers.
[removed] 11 months ago
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Luca 11 months ago
The thing is, it's a bit different when the company has been harassing small companies and putting them out of business for years. They're beginning to destroy live action film, and for years, our Hollywood blockbusters have been nothing but mindless entertainment. When's the last time we saw a movie like Jurrassic Park that started an entire franchise? And regardless of what you think of it, when's the last time we saw something like Blair Witch Project revolutionize the movie industry? The thing is, like the anonymous person above said, they have created a lot of good things, but they have not taken risks or even attempted to give us the best product they possibly can. While the majority of their movies are extremely well done (outside of the live action remakes), they just can't seem to make something outside of the regular Disney formula. It stunts creativity, and it's bad for both creators and viewers. 

Additionally, they've been tanking the X-Men franchise on purpose, as well as cancelling all their Marvel shows so that people move to Disney Plus. No matter that the Netflix shows were some of the best superhero shows in existence; they want money. They even manage to screw up things like the recent Star Wars movies with poor writing and character development, all while changing things in the name of political correctness. Audiences lap it up anyway! 

Basically, Disney has been a scourge of creativity and boundary pushing content for a very long time now. We're not seeing anything new because they have a formula and it makes money, which is all they care about. Meanwhile, meaningful art often gets lost along the way. Maybe the money shakeup will make them realize that they aren't invincible and that other studios might have a fighting change against them after all. 
E Hayes 11 months ago
Reply about the Spider-man thing.  Yes, Disney is overstepping this, they should've let the father put whatever he wants on the tombstone as the boy was only four years old.  It won't "destroy the magic," I think Disney's treatment of Spider-man in Infinity War just to further Tony Stark's story sort of destroyed some of the magic for me, though.

Let's not forget that Disney also tried to trademark the Mexican Day of the Dead before Coco came out, and if they had succeeded then Mexicans would've had to rename their own holiday to avoid trademark issues. 

I still like Disney animation, though.  The artists who are making the movies are not responsible for the legal decisions and I don't want to see them fold.   
Julienne Dy 11 months ago
Yeah, the only part of the three replies that followed my comment that even remotely had anything to do with my actual comment was this:  "The artists who are making the movies are not responsible for the legal decisions and I don't want to see them fold."

Let me put it this way: Just because the schoolyard bully finally got punished by the teacher and deservedly so, it doesn't mean it's okay for you to laugh at him for getting punished.

Besides, I don't know if you've noticed, but EVERYONE is going through misfortune right now, deserved or otherwise.