No one has had fun during the COVID-19 era, other than maybe Jeff Bezos and sadists. Film fans are no exception. With the indefinite delay of “Tenet,” the summer movie season has been officially sunk. It’s over.
Now, I’m not one who usually goes to the movies during the summer. It has to be an absolute event for me to be interested in the usual summer movie, like “Avengers: Endgame” last year. This year, “Tenet” seemed like the movie to see during the hot months, but that’s a no go. I know a lot of people who were looking forward to this summer movie season with tons of hype and hope. I was not one of those people, though I was looking to “Tenet” with a healthy amount of anticipation. It’s a Christopher Nolan film. That makes it a must-see.
Regardless, I’m more concerned with what comes next for the film industry. The fall and winter months are when I head out to the theater frequently. But if the big boy studios and theater companies weren’t willing to scratch and claw their way past governments in order to get their blockbuster out, what will the independent studios and local theaters do over the course of the prestige picture portion of the calendar?
This is really a cause for concern if you’re a movie watcher and like to go to the theater. Again, if Disney isn’t going to risk it all for a payout, then no one will. Still, I suppose Disney would’ve been at a loss anyway. Would everyone have flocked to the theater to go see “Mulan” or “Black Widow” if theaters were allowed to stay open? Based on how irresponsible people have been, I wouldn’t have been shocked to see packed theaters in spite of the virus being a huge deal. And, to be fair, the right decision is to have the theaters closed, so I’m not advocating for movies over real human life. But just because it is OBVIOUSLY morally correct and responsible to keep theaters shuttered doesn’t mean it’s fun.
I’ve heard the sentiment that a vaccine will be the real turning point in getting regular life back on track, and while I generally agree with that concept, I think there are two things to consider as it relates to the movies. One is that we have no clear timeline on the vaccine process unless you are following that aspect of things particularly close or are on the inside trying to create it. Even then, theorizing is the best most people can do in regards to a vaccine. If one isn’t approved and available until 2022, most theaters will be gone by then. I suspect that missing out on the 2020 Christmas movie season would serve as a nail in the coffin for most theater chain locations, including the Regal in Hazleton.
The other concern I have with the vaccine talk is that I don’t trust it will be widely available to the common man right off the bat. I would prepare to pay a pretty penny in order to get vaccinated. Why does this matter for the movies? Because if people try to get into a theater without being vaccinated (which most people won’t be), they’ll either be turned away by employees with a thermometer or a board across the door. It will really be something when the people who make the movies can get vaccinated but the people who watch them will still be stuck inside.
The virus has made everyone a little bit more pessimistic about things. For me, I have no hope in the powerful to uplift the masses through an affordable vaccine, and I also have very little hope that the movie industry will look the same on the other side of the pandemic. I don’t like it. You shouldn’t either.
Sam Zavada is a copy editor with The Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. He previously served as the news clerk at The Standard-Speaker, working with the obituaries and the community and lifestyle pages. Sam’s work in print dates back to his time at King’s College, where he spent two years as the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper, The Crown. Earlier in his time with The Crown, he worked as a staff writer and the entertainment manager. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.