With the coronavirus pandemic forcing TV and film studios to close their sets, viewers have been left in the dark about when some of their favorite comedies, dramas and everything else will pick up production again (Some of us still have hope for “Atlanta” season 3). Even more painful is the reality that many major blockbusters that were scheduled for an early to mid 2020 release will have to premiere later this year or in 2021. Black Widow, F9, Wonder Woman 1984 and Antebellum are just a handful of films on Vulture’s list of COVID-delayed movies. Talk about tough news for those of us desperately looking for new content!
Originally slated to debut in April, Antebellum, starring Janelle Monáe, has now been scheduled to premiere August 21st.
More interesting is the conversation surrounding traditional, sit-down movie theaters. Drive-in theaters have made a comeback; plus, people are still skeptical about returning to a sit-in theater even with social distancing and other health precautions. Chicago movie theaters can open under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s phase 4 plan by June 26 at the earliest, but this leaves a big question for film fanatics: When will filmmakers be able to create something new and fresh? According to “Chicago Med/Fire/PD” director Carl Seaton, the answer isn’t so clean-cut.
“Folks are still writing and developing and even casting, but productions are nowhere near close to resuming anywhere in the world as it is impossible to practice social distancing on a set. Movie theatres may never recover and no one in the industry knows when production will resume and when it does, how safe it will be.”
Local creatives have been hit as well. Chicago-based filmmaker and producer Briana Clearly is known for telling Black women’s stories, especially as they relate to relationships. She shared her thoughts on how this pandemic might change set life. “I think it’s going to affect working on set similar to the way it’s going to affect people working in retail or restaurants. I don’t think it’s going to be that much different. I just think there will be this period of acclimation. There will be some leeriness because if we open up any time this year, we’re going to do it without a vaccine. We’re not going to be able to move how we normally move. People don’t realize how much we like to be close. It’ll take some adjusting.”
It’s somewhat comforting to think that our go-to movie theaters will live on after the pandemic; but many of us are left curious. What exactly will be playing when we decide to go back?
By Marilyn Koonce, Northern Illinois University Alumna