Hollywood’s Dramatic Shifts: COVID-19, Racial Justice, and More

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Photo courtesy Nathan Engel/Pexels

A year through a pandemic has shaken Hollywood down. What is the fate of the entertainment industry now?

Media titans have been panicking due to movie theatres being nearly shut down for the last year. To help, Warner Bros. released a schedule back in December of movies coming to HBO Max the same day those films would hit theaters. While it may have been a good deal to the streaming service, other prominent Hollywood elites debated it. One of those vocal voices came from Christopher Nolan, director of the film “Tenet,” one of the first films to get a theatrical release during the pandemic last year. 

“Their decision makes no economic sense,” said Nolan in a statement, calling HBO Max “the worst streaming service” regarding their plan to release their films online. 

Although other movies are getting releases to both online streaming services and to theatres, there is no doubt the issues sprawling from 2020 will change cinema to come, not just where to go see a movie. 

9/11 turned around many cinematic movements. Aside from closing large venues such as baseball games and concerts, the disastrous event caused the media to focus on patriotism while its portrayal of violence and annihilation nearly disappeared from the screen for a few years. 

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It took Hollywood depicting these events head-on with the films like “World Trade Center” from Oliver Stone and Paul Greengrass’s “United 93,” both appearing in 2006, to represent the events in a meaningful way. Many children’s shows including “Power Rangers” and “Pokémon” had to be taken off the air due to scenes that showed the destruction of cityscapes. 

Now the question is what Hollywood plans on doing in the years following the COVID-19 pandemic. We have already seen how television depicted the events in the show “The Good Doctor,” which portrayed many patients getting the virus and showed how healthcare workers dealt with it early on. There are already countless television shows revolving around healthcare. Will we see a new genre in the theatre (or online)?

But it’s not just COVID-19 that will shift Hollywood. Cinema’s biggest feat comes with its handling of racial inequality. While these issues have existed already in the entertainment industry, Hollywood may finally be listening. 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has had a long history of racial issues at the Oscars, inciting a hashtag that changed the awarding event forever with “#OscarsSoWhite.” Subsequently, countless award winners have taken their spotlight during the Oscars over the years for the outcry of inclusion while preaching on diversity and change for their counterparts. Now, it seems as if more Black actors, writers and directors are getting recognition from the films they have a role in. Movies like “Get Out,” “Black Panther,” and “Coco,” all have earned their successes both at the box office and on stage in recent time. 

All these issues from the recent year will never go away, and I’m sure kids will open their history textbooks twenty years from now and read all about what we went through. Perhaps Hollywood studios will produce a movie about the pandemic and brush on other key events like acial justice, murder hornets, the stock market crash, west coast fires and Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. 

For now, the cinema will continue to stream online while Hollywood elites look on as they stir the pot in an industry that may already be bleeding. 

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