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How the entertainment industry is finding ways to survive during COVID

We’ve all heard about the scene (pun intended) Tom Cruise made during the filming of the new Mission Impossible 7 movie back in December 2020 when he shouted at his staff reminding them to respect the sanitary rules in order to avoid having to cancel or postpone filming. Whether the rant was staged or not, the video went viral and as harsh as Mr. Cruise came off, many celebrities and workers in the entertainment industry alike seemed to agree with his message. With so much money on the line, so many obstacles to deal with during the pandemic, and so few margins for errors, the film industry could not afford such mistakes, as small as they may seem.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many industries all over the world and the entertainment industry is no different. Theatres, stadiums, concert venues, comedy clubs, and even casinos, have all had to shut down for extended periods of time. If the pandemic has taught us one thing though it is that entertainment is essential and the numbers are there to prove it. According to “PwC’s annual 2018 Media and Entertainment Outlook”, the industry will reach $792.3 billion by 2022, up from 666.9 billion in 2017.

The streaming industry (Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Crave…) had already been going strong long before COVID.  However, the time being confined at home enabled many new users to experience these streaming services. New shows and movies have been discovered and rediscovered. Even if many productions have had to be postponed, these platforms have managed to release new content frequently (think Tiger King on Netflix and the second season of The Boys on Prime) and strive during this pandemic. According to Refinitiv, a global provider of financial market data and infrastructure, Netflix have reported earnings of $6.44 billion which is millions more than the $6.38 billion initially projected. Many blockbuster movies have been confirmed for 2021 such as the latest James Bond flick No time to die, the long-awaited Marvel film The Black Widow, and Fast and Furious 9. Hopefully, theatres will be opened by then.

Live musicians have also had to find creative ways to make money. Some offered virtual concerts from the comfort of their homes for small fees. Others, such as Brian Fallon, a solo artist and former frontman of the Gaslight Anthem, had to cancel his tour after the first gig in March 2020. To help support his musicians, Fallon wrote out song lyrics and sold them for $200 each. He eventually sold 140 in an hour.
Stand-up comedians and theater actors found themselves in the same boat. Many of them have seen their livelihood abruptly come to a halt. As great as they may be at improvising, dealing with comedy clubs and theatre venues being closed, became a challenge none of them anticipated.

“I don’t find the virtual shows as great as if you were to get a live audience and that’s what’s really hurting, is to hear that laughter and to get that interaction with other people,” Los Angeles-based comedian Tracy Esposito told TODAY, back in.

“What on earth is the Senate waiting for?” said Kate Shindle, President of Actors’ Equity Association, in a statement released on August 7, 2020. “Our members have lost the weekly $600 that was their lifeline. Those who have lost health care are struggling to pay for COBRA coverage. Arts institutions are on the brink of shuttering without arts funding. The Senate is standing in the way of literally life-saving aid. The Senate must act now and it should make the unemployment benefits retroactive to cover the lapse in payments.”

Casinos, which rely heavily on tourism, have been one of the industries that has been the most impacted. There are 114 casinos in Canada and the gaming industry accounts for more than 182,000 jobs, along with revenues to governments and charities of $9.2 billion and spending on goods and services of about $14.6 billion. The live experience has changed drastically with social distancing, hand sanitizers, face masks, and disinfecting wipes becoming the norm. Thankfully, online casinos are still available for those who enjoy gambling.

This pandemic has been tough on everyone and no one quite knows when the pandemic will end but one thing is certain: people will be filling out seats to catch up with their favourite source of entertainment when that time comes.

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