Productions Back In Business Post COVID Shutdown

Productions Back In Business Post COVID Shutdown

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, it seemed like everything came to a standstill including productions on movies, television shows, and commercials. Broadway also hit the pause button.

In 2020, the number of original scripted TV shows across broadcast, cable, premium pay, and streaming channels fell for the first time in a decade since statistics have been tracked. There were 493 scripted programs, down from a record high of 532 programs in 2019, according to Forbes and figures cited in its article from the Motion Picture Association’s (MPA) annual THEME report.

In addition, as a result of production delays, many television programs were moved to the 2021-2022 TV season. The number of original shows on Netflix dropped year-over-year by 12% in the early months of 2021. There were also fewer movie releases, according to the THEME report. Only 338 movies were theatrically released in 2020, a 66% decrease from 987 movies in 2019. Furthermore, the estimated number of films that began production in 2020 fell by 45%, totaling 447.

Production of commercials halted, with some brands changing up their messaging to address the virus while others found creative ways to shoot their ads. One carmaker, for example, had its car ad shot at home.

Broadway also went dark in April 2020 amid the pandemic, only to open 17 months later in August 2021.

There’s No Business Like Show Business

Several months after the shutdown in 2020, cameras began rolling again. SAG-AFTRA, according to France24, had led months-long efforts to reopen Hollywood, co-signing a deal with top studios in September of that year to increase on-set coronavirus safety measures for its actors, including testing. Interestingly, several countries were vying for production to take place on their turf, according to the LA Times, touting incentives, facilities, and locations in addition to their low COVID-19 numbers, testing capabilities, and other helpful measures. Production shut down again in Hollywood in late December 2020 after a surge in COVID cases.

In 2021, Hollywood bounced back. According to FilmLA, which tracks production shoots in Los Angeles, last year’s July to September period marked the third-strongest quarter in 26 years, with more than 10,000 days of filming recorded in the greater Los Angeles area. The momentum carried over into the fourth quarter, which saw a record 10,780 shoot days, a four percent increase over the previous three-month high set in the fourth quarter of 2018. 

With a high demand for streaming content, TV production shoots fared the best, said FilmLA, with 18,560 shoot days, an 18% increase over the previous record set in 2016.

Most recently, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences with a full house in attendance at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles recognized best-picture films CODA, West Side Story, King Richard, Belfast, Dune, and others as well as documentaries Summer of Soul, Ascension, Flee, Attica, and Writing with Fire.

Broadway is also coming back, particularly for pre-pandemic hits. New and unfamiliar plays still struggle as they typically do, with several shows closing. Producers and investors, however, are optimistic about the spring with ticket sales and attendance up.

Sources: Forbes, France24, LA Times, Deadline, NY Times