By mid-April, one theater was open in the whole country — a Florida drive-in that grossed $2,150 for the weekend, according to Screen Crush, using data from the movie business site The Numbers.
Meanwhile, streaming services has taken over, gaining 75 % of new subscribers since social distancing policies took hold in March, according to Market Watch. The change is particularly apparent among young people, with Gen Z and Millennials preferring streaming over all other methods of consumption, including theaters and broadcast, according to our analysis of data from Statista.com. And that is not just on age group, our analysis revealed how we stream based on race and genre during COVID-19.
Furthermore, it shows the shift of media consumption in various countries around the globe.Industry experts think the shift will be a lasting one, in part because theaters were already losing out streaming services, with ticket sales down 14% in the two-decade period from 1999 to 2019, based on data from The Numbers.
“I cannot help but think it’s going to have a lasting effect,” said filmmaker Amy Talkington when talking about COVID-19. “I hope that movie theaters will survive,” added the writer of 2020’s Valley Girl, who is also co-executive producer of Little Fire Everywhere. But she isn’t sure.
“I think it will be event oriented,” she said of the theater business. “Anything smaller will end up streaming. It feels like we are heading in that direction, but (COVID) has hastened the change.”
Talkington said she thinks the virus and our reaction to it will also affect the production of movies, not just how we watch them.
“I’m also concerned about how movies are going to be made in the near future,” Talkington said. “How productions are going to proceed. I’m curious to see how people are going to try to put together sets. So, we will see. There will be lasting changes, certainly, in the distribution. The production side will get back to normal when it can. I cannot see that changing a lot.”
Tom DeNucci, filmmaker of Almost Mercy and Vault, goes further to explain the type of changes that might occur in the distribution and production side of the movie business. He stated that writers are going to write less scenes with a lot of people in them. There will be less scenes with crowds. Producers would also put together movies with smaller casts.
With production, DeNucci expressed that meals will be prepackage and everything is going to be monitored. The days of catering tables that once served fresh fruits with some cheese and crackers for the cast and crews are gone. Crews will wear face masks. Furthermore, he stated that there are talks that they might potentially quarantine casts and crew a couple of weeks before production and shoot of the movie, and then quarantine them after production to ensure their safety.
With distribution, DeNucci does not think the COVID-19 will affect much. Similar financial deals once placed with theaters will now be used on streaming services. Movies would simply be licensed out to several streaming services. He summed up the situation in the film industry as they—as well as everyone else—are facing COVID-19.
“There is a lot of people, right now, trying to figure it out.” DeNucci said. “The truth is right now there are no rules. Everyone is kind-of feeling it out. I feel that the term new normal is a real thing and I don’t think it would ever go back to the way it was.”
The new normal for media consumption is streaming, whether it is movies or television. Analysis has shown that certain age groups prefer streaming one over the other. For instance, Millennials and Gen Z are the highest in streaming more movies than television. Both age groups equally stream at 50 percent. Gen X are not far behind with 49 percent, while Boomer falls behind at 34 percent.
When it comes to streaming television, Millennial and Gen X lead with 48 percent while Gen Z is behind with 47 percent and Boomers with 30 percent. However, when it comes to subscribing to a streaming service, Millennials has the highest percentage than any other age group with 30 percent while Boomers are the least likely to subscribe with 15 percent.
Aaron Ngo, a TV/movie fanatic and a Millennial, explains why he subscribed to a streaming service than any other provider.
“My favorite streaming service is Netflix, and yes, I have subscribed to it.” Ngo said, “I chose a streaming service because re-watching is less stressful than watching something new on cable or satellite service.”
As of April 22, Netflix has doubled its expectation when tallying its new subscribers to its streaming service amid COVID-19. The Guardian reported that 15.77 million new customers have joined the service globally.
For those trying to escape the news coverage of coronavirus pandemic, the analysis discovered what genre that a certain age group prefer to watch during these trying times. When it comes to Boomers, they prefer to watch drama over any other genre, while Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Z prefer to watch comedy.
Ngo agrees. He believed watching comedy helps people unwind or escape from the dreadful reality of the pandemic.
“I watch comedy whenever I find television time.” Ngo said, “It has been helpful with my stress and anxiety. My favorite comedy television show is How I Met Your Mother, right before bedtime.”
DeNucci also concurs with this finding. “I think that comedy is great right now. In fact, I’m actually writing a comedy and my production team is currently working on a movie called One Shot. I think it is a time that, I think, we do need to laugh. There is a lot of negativity on the news. Every time you flip the channels or listen to the radio, or look on social media, chances are you are seeing something pretty dark, pretty negative. So, I think it’s a great escape, to be able to watch comedy and have a laugh” DeNucci said. “ The world could use some laugh, so I’m all for comedy right now.”
He went further to say that he believes this trend would continue after the pandemic is over. He also believes Hollywood will produce a lot of uplifting movies to put some smiles on people’s faces.
Comedy ranked the second highest for Boomers. Meanwhile, drama was one of the lowest genres, for Gen X with 6 percent, Millennial with 9 percent, and Gen Z with 4 percent. The least preferred genre for any of the age group was science/travel with Boomers at 5 percent, Gen X at 3 percent, Gen Z at 2 percent, and Millennial at 2 percent.
As for media consumption worldwide during the pandemic, the analysis has shown that the masses from various countries are focusing on the news coverage, which is not surprising since most people want to be updated on the status of the virus in their country and around the world. Streaming service was second highest followed by messaging service. Social media and broadcast channels were tied at fourth place.
Although most of the country’s second highest choice of media consumption was watching streaming services, Brazil, Philippines, and South Africa are the only countries that prefer social media over streaming services.
One of the least media consumptions was reading the newspaper. It even went down to 1%, the lowest percent of the entire category, in the country of Australia.
When it comes to computer/videogames and books/audiobooks, most countries prefer computer/videogames. Italy ( 16 percent versus 15 percent), Singapore ( 9 percent versus 8 percent) and South Africa (15 percent versus 14 percent) are the only countries that prefers books/audiobooks over computer/videogames. Meanwhile, it is evenly split for both media consumption in the country of Spain and Germany with 20 percent and 8 percent, respectively.
Tom DeNucci, a filmmaker, is concerned about the current trend of the surge of streaming service in the United States. He grew up in the 90s when going to movie theaters was a big deal. His dream as a young filmmaker was to see his film on a big screen someday. He thinks those days are gone or at least fading.
“I really think it is going to take a little while for movies theaters to bounce back. Movie theaters were already struggling.” DeNucci said, “ I think this[ COVID-19] could be a death blow to the theater system. Big movies like marvel movies or Star Wars movies will still have theatrical run, but the days of run-of-the-mill average movies being in the theaters is going to change. People are realizing in the business that you get a lot more eyes on it if it is streaming.”
On a positive note, people are willing to go back to the theater a lot more, after the pandemic is over. David Garrett Jr., a horror movie fan, expressed that he will go to the theaters a lot after the pandemic is over due to missing it so much. However, he feels eventually he will go to the theaters just about the same time as he did pre-coronavirus. On the other hand, Ngo is certain that he will go to see movies more often on the big screen.
“I want to go see a movie at least once a week.” Ngo said. “That was the original plan for 2020, but I wasn't committed and then the pandemic broke out. So, once movie theaters open back up, I'll definitely commit to that plan and go see a movie once a week in the theaters.”
1. How We Stream Differs by Age Group:https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/5EDTP/2/
2. How We Differs by Genre: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/5clUJ/2/
3. How We View Media Differs by Countries: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/7PKwN/3/
Rubin, R. (Mar. 15, 2020). Box Office Plunges to Lowest Level in Over Two Decades Amid Coronavirus Pandemic. Variety. Retrieved from: https://variety.com/2020/film/box-office/box-office-coronavirus-moviegoing-north-america-120353469
Swartz, J. (May 2, 2020). Netflix may have edge on competition as coronavirus keeps people looking for new shows. Market Watch. Retrieved from:https://www.marketwatch.com/story/netflix-in-the-age-of-covid-19-streaming-pioneer-may-have-new-edge-on-competition-2020-04-07
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Singer, M. (Apr. 20,2020). The Entire Weekend Box Office Report Is From A Single Drive-In In Florida. Screen Crush. Retrieved from: https://screencrush.com/coronavirus-box-office-drive-in-in-florida/
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The Numbers. Retrieved from: https://www.the-numbers.com/