Coronavirus: freeze frame for movies and series
Culture devastated by coronavirus
Since March 15, our country has been under lockdown. Schools, restaurants and other bars are closed. This is also the case for cinemas. With no more spectators, like other industries in France, the sector is in great suffering.
How far away the staggering figures for the year 2019 are now! With 213 million spectators and a 6% increase over the previous year, they set a record since 1966. The 2020s are in danger of collapsing.
The National Film Centre (CNC) is putting forward the first figures on the impact of the coronavirus. Six thousand cinemas have closed and 15,000 employees are unemployed. In March 2019, the turnover of the operators was 123 million euros, this year’s turnover (only 15 opening days) is down by almost 70%.
Aid for cinemas
In addition to government measures (partial unemployment but also the deferral of social security and tax charges) and in order to deal with the most pressing problems, the CNC has put in place two kinds of aid for these companies: the suspension of the tax on tickets (TSA) and the advance payment of subsidies for Art et Essais cinema. There are 1,200 classified rooms of this kind all over the country. Finally, aid for producers and distributors has also been made available.
Added to this are the difficulties for intermittent workers in the entertainment, film and audiovisual industries, whose regime is based on the declaration of 507 hours of work per year. Some of these artists or technicians are afraid of being disbarred from Pôle Emploi. They were assured by the Ministries of Culture and Labour that the period of confinement would not be counted in the calculation of the entitlement period. For the month of March, 15,000 intermittent workers were deprived of work.
The Minister of Culture, Franck Riester, has committed a total of 22 million euros in emergency aid for all sectors of culture. Will that be enough?
Shooting stopped and postponed
Government measures to halt the spread of the Covid-19 virus have therefore resulted in the cessation of film and series production. They have had a significant effect on the cash flow of producers, putting a strain on the companies themselves.
If it seems logical for the actors in the industry to finish the current shootings, what about the following films? How will productions be able to juggle with the schedules and other availabilities of actresses, actors, technical teams, equipment and locations serving as sets (physical or studio)? Often, schedules are closed over several years. Some actors also alternate with theatre.
It should also be noted that some companies had already been in the red for some time, such as Mars Films, the distribution company of Stéphane Celerier and Valérie Garcia (Bridget Jones, Billy Elliot, The Spanish Inn, Eight Women) in receivership but also Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp, which has been taken over by Vine Alternative Investments, an American investment fund. This economic crisis is also coupled with the recent drop in co-financing by television channels, which had already put a strain on the productions of some feature films.
Let’s now go into the details of the shooting of series or films that were stopped by the health crisis:
Feature films stopped or postponed
As already mentioned, Ridley Scott’s Last Duel was interrupted in the Dordogne, as was Fred Cavayé’s film, Adieu M. Hafmann à Paris, leaving its sets as if frozen in time.
Other French producers have even decided not to shoot before May, including Worso and Aurora Productions.
With 21 days to go, Christophe Barratier’s Envole-moi was stopped, while Pascal Elbé’s On est fait pour s’ entendre also had to stop. Les Tuches 4, Petite Solange or François Ozon’s future film had not yet started and are therefore postponed.
Let’s take a look at the interrupted shots:
- Matt Reeves’The Batman starring Robert Pattinson, first stopped for two weeks, will not resume immediately on the streets of London
- Jurassic World: Dominion had started in Hawaii before it was interrupted. Omar Sy, who stars in the film, also doesn’t know how he’ll be able to juggle his schedules, because in addition to his scenes with the dinosaurs, he has to shoot the Lupin series for Netflix.
- Mission Impossible 7 also suffered the consequences of the coronavirus in Italy with its stop in Venice
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings directed by Destiny Daniel Cretton has been stopped in Australia
- Fantastic Beasts 3 with Dan Fogler, whose filming start date was March 16, finally didn’t start. The technical teams had to film in London and then in Brazil.
- Nightmare Alley by Guillermo del Toro, produced by Disney with Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett was also interrupted.
- Also at Disney, the shooting of the live films of The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan have been postponed.
- Many times postponed due to technical constraints, the sequels of James Cameron’s Avatar are at a standstill. The second opus was to be released in December 2021.
- Lana Wachowski’s Matrix 4 with Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne-Moss has also been suspended.
- Uncharted, based on the video game of the same name, did not start in April in Berlin. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, it will reunite Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg.
- Red Notice for Netflix with Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds was arrested in Atlanta.
- Also in Atlanta, The Samaritan with Sylvester Stallone was also suspended…
The international series
There are many interruptions. We can mention season 2 of The Witcher filmed in London, season 4 of Stranger Things, The Haunting of Hill House the new series by Mike Flanagan, Grace and Frankie, but also the sequels of Lucifer, Riverdale and Russian Doll.
No less than 35 shoots were suspended, including Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Med and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
The American firm stopped the production of three series because of the coronavirus. Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a mini-series of six episodes with Anthony Mackie, but also Loki created by Michael Waldron with Tom Hiddleston and finally WandaVision the series with Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany. You also need to add Big Shot for Disney +.
Season 6 of The Flash was interrupted by the production company.
After a first season in 2019, Amazon had started shooting the second half of Carnival Row before being stopped. Orlando Bloom, Cara Delevingne and Tamzin Merchant will have to wait before resuming.
The Lord of the Rings, the series produced by Amazon Prime Video, has also been paused.
Apple TV +
Apple’s streaming platform has suspended many shoots, including For All Mankind, Foundation, Lisey’s Story, Little America, Mankind, The Morning Show, Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, See and Servant.
The channel’s two flagship series, The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Deadwere also interrupted.
Season 4 of Snowfall and Fargo, as well as season 3 of Atlanta were not continued in April.
NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans, Bull and The Good Fight have been shut down. The seasons whose shooting was almost finished, will not resume and will thus count less episodes than planned in the script.
Shooting of season 16 of Grey’s Anatomy has been paused indefinitely.
Peaky Blinders and Line of Duty had their filming suspended due to the coronavirus.
The fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale has been discontinued.
Streaming in top form
While music streaming platforms did not see a significant increase in March, those for films or series were in good shape.
Feature films just released in the week before the lockdown have suffered enormously. The French government was working in March on an exceptional derogation from the media chronology. Perhaps they could be put directly on the platforms (instead of the usual four months) or have their theatrical life extended. But for now, the project seems to be on hold.
A few films, notably Marjane Satrapi’s Radioactive and Martin Provost’s The Good Wife, would prefer to wait for the theatres to reopen before continuing on their way.
Other producers have decided to stream their feature films directly without going through the cinema box. This is the case of Monsieur Deligny, Richard Copans’ efficient vagabond who was to be released on March 18, but also The Lovebirds visible on Netflix or Forte by Katia Lewkowicz with Melha Bedia put online on Amazon Prime.
Other distributors play the game of limited rental. Thus at Universal, The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma are visible for 48 hours for just under $20.
Oscar rule change
To be eligible for the Oscars, a film must have been screened for at least seven days in Los Angeles theatres. Scheduled for February 2021, the 93rd ceremony will exceptionally be able to see feature films that do not meet this criterion.
Previously the Golden Globes had also announced a relaxation of their rules because of Covid-19.
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By Damien Canteau
Passionné par l'Histoire, les animés, les Arts et la bande dessinée en particulier, Damien est le rédacteur en chef du site spécialisé dans le 9e art, Comixtrip.