Hollywood is on the brink of a shutdown over coronavirus, and insiders say the impact will be felt for years

  • Insider spoke to numerous Hollywood insiders about how the entertainment business will move forward during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • In less than 24 hours, big movies like "A Quiet Place II" and "F9" have moved their release dates. While Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have announced they tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • Several sources told Insider that theaters may have rereleases of movies that recently opened in theaters to combat the lack of new releases.
  • However, Tom Nunan, UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television lecturer and former network television/movie studio head, told Insider that he believes the effects of the coronavirus won't be felt until 2021 and beyond as production in movies and TV is inevitably going to continue to be halted.
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 The coronavirus is upending the entertainment industry.

In less than 24 hours, the movie business's biggest conference, CinemaCon, was canceled. Anticipated upcoming releases like "A Quiet Place II" and "F9" (the ninth "Fast & Furious" movie) have pulled out of their original release dates. And Tom Hanks, along with wife actress Rita Wilson, announced that they both have tested positive for the coronavirus in Australia where Hanks is filming Baz Luhrmann's untitled Elvis Presley movie (which since has been halted).

And this is likely only the beginning.

Insider spoke to numerous industry insiders on Thursday who — despite all working in different facets of the business — voiced a similar take: no one has any idea what tomorrow will bring and this could continue into 2021 and beyond.

One put it best this way: "I'm spending half my day telling people the sky isn't falling and the other half checking to see if it is."

How the industry is coming to terms with the reality of the situation

A major question the industry is grappling with right now is how the movie industry will cope going forward, specifically for movies with theatrical releases.

The first title to be affected by the coronavirus was the next "Mission: Impossible," which halted filming in Italy last month. Then last week, "No Time to Die," the 25th James Bond movie, was the first completed movie to be affected when its release date was pushed from April to November.

But the floodgates opened after President Trump's oval office address on Wednesday night, in which he restricted travel to most of Europe and offered economic relief actions. Soon after, CinemaCon officials announced it was canceling this year's event.

It was significant because the annual Las Vegas event run by the National Association of Theatre Owners is where many of the major studios put on glitzy presentations for big titles they have in store in the coming months to the movie theater community. Even the stars of the movies are flown in to mingle and promote their projects.

"A Quiet Place II."
Paramount Pictures

The major event being scrapped became a reality check for the industry. The studios had to individually assess where to go from here, leading to release changes of titles that need to do well not just domestically, but globally to be successful.

Some may argue that because of social distancing being encouraged in numerous regions of the country that a title like "Quiet Place II" or "Peter Rabbit 2" (another title that got a release date move) should just be put on streaming services so people who are stuck at home can enjoy them.

But one insider scoffed at that reasoning saying, "these movies can't recoup their costs going straight-to-streaming."

Then there are the movie theaters themselves. Keeping the venues clean has become a huge priority. And chains that serve food have new guidelines to keep both servers and patrons safe. But that all might not matter if more and more titles that were to open in the coming weeks are moved off those dates.

According to several industry insiders, early talks have begun between studios and theater owners about rereleasing movies that recently just had theatrical runs in hopes to entice people to go to the theaters if there is a lack of new releases. Even dusting off old classics and giving them reruns isn't out of the question.

Hollywood is on the brink of a shutdown

The ripple effect of the coronavirus may not fully be felt in Hollywood until 2021 and beyond as the number of movies and TV shows currently in production being put on hold is likely to grow.

"What we are getting from numerous governors is to avoid meetings where it's 250 people or more, well, you just described a movie set or a TV production set," Tom Nunan, UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television lecturer and former network television/movie studio head, told Insider.

While Insider was on the phone with Nunan, Apple's "The Morning Show" series shut down production on its second season. And he believes that number is only going to grow, which will not just affect revenue but how companies will green-light projects going forward.

Jennifer Aniston on "The Morning Show."
Apple TV Plus

"How many productions do you commit to in 2020 and 2021 if they are pushing a lot of these releases back?" Nunan wonders. "I think talk shows and new shows, productions with small crews, will continue. But in terms of original content, I don't think it will remain intact in the next two to four months. Movie studios and TV production companies will act in an abundance of caution to protect their artists."

And productions that are still going on are being monitored very closely. Insider spoke recently to Blumhouse Productions' Jason Blum who said that he's keeping a close eye on his project currently shooting. The cast and crew have been given guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control on how to stay healthy.

Simply put: welcome to the new normal.

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