But with theaters and productions both shuttered, Hollywood’s ability to fund future productions with current proceeds has been interrupted. Studios that have lots of cash on hand, or that are part of larger conglomerates, may soldier on. Others will not. Those studios that survive will face difficult choices about how many movies they can put into production, and whether to keep swinging for the fences with blockbusters or committing to making smaller movies that are less risky but also less remunerative. Their decisions will reverberate for years to come.
In the short term, novel efforts to get new movies in front of homebound audiences run their own risks. Universal broke an industry taboo Monday when it announced that it would make some movies available for $20 streaming rentals even while they play in theaters. Sony, also hoping to pick up viewers amid social distancing, plans to release the Vin Diesel film “Bloodshot” on demand next week. In an age of relatively inexpensive and extremely high-quality flat-screen televisions and home audio equipment, this option has been anathema to the film industry, which has feared it would make theaters obsolete.