Streaming enhances pandemic entertainment

The entertainment industry has provided a month full of releases amidst the pandemic


Eric Omorogieva, Staff Writer

These past few months of film and T.V. show releases have served as another reminder of how the entertainment industry has largely been reshaped by the pandemic. Other recent events have hinted at this as well. This past Sunday’s Academy Awards show was much different than we are used to, and not just because it took place in L.A.’s Union Station rather than the Dolby Theater, which housed the show for the prior 18 years. This season also presented us with a nomination list that was only made possible by a combination of factors including the nominee’s success, delays of other anticipated films and most importantly, the ways that studios and film have shifted their release format to better reflect current conditions. A major part of that is the use of streaming services, which premiered or currently house many of this year’s biggest hits. This was not the case a few years ago, with Oscar rules being clear about the need for theater runs as a qualification for being nominated.

Many of this year’s winners came from movies that premiered directly on a streaming service. Netflix came out on top of them all with seven wins, while Disney earned five and Amazon Prime Video won two for their film, “Sound of Metal.”

Daniel Kaluuya won Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah”, a film that debuted on HBO Max the same day it was released in theater. Disney hit it big with their hit animated film “Soul”, which premiered on Christmas Day on Disney+. These wins came from releases that easily could have been delayed further into next year’s Oscar season had it not been for streaming services operating as a safety net for big releases.

This effect has not only been shown through movies, however, but via T.V. shows as well. These have been shaped to give big companies like Disney a way to continue entertaining audiences. What great timing it was for Disney+ to launch less than six months before the pandemic began! Both HBO Max and Peacock have also launched just a couple of months into the pandemic era. These services add to the growing list of services in the ongoing streaming war, and also provide fans with more ways to entertain themselves.

There have been a few highlights of the entertainment scene from this past semester, some of which OG&B has covered in past reviews. “Godzilla vs. Kong” gave fans their first real experience of a globally successful pandemic hit. Fans had the chance to either watch the film in theaters — in which it drew record-breaking numbers that matched the “Monsterverse” series prior to films  notched in the box office numbers — or they could view it on HBO Max, which also drew record numbers.

“Raya and the Last Dragon” was a great film as well, featuring an all-Asian cast and telling the adorable story of a girl looking to save her region from dark times with the help of a dragon.

Another method for releases that Hollywood has tried is the pay-per-view route and limited theater runs. A film would release for about 17 days in theaters, and then be available to rent for $20. This method has found success as well, most recently with the exciting short action film “Nobody”, which is about a family man with a dark past who wants to avenge his past failure to prevent his home from being robbed. The film comes from the same producers behind the “John Wick” franchise, which guarantees high-quality stunt work.

On the television side, there has been a list of quality content. The MCU under Disney+ has now wrapped up two seasons of “Wandavision” and “Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, both of which are exciting ways to keep up with the studio’s massive superhero universe. HBO’s hit series “Euphoria” released a couple of offseason episodes to fill the gap between season one and their upcoming second season. The world of crime series has thrived as well with FX’s “Snowfall” and Epix’s “The Godfather of Harlem”, the latter of which is currently airing.

Overall, the industry has adjusted quite well to the pandemic and allowed fans to continue their binging tendencies. There has been no shortage of content and it does not seem likely that there will be  anytime soon.