Written by Caitlin Parr
Illustration by Zoe Sheilds
As cinemas closed in March, lovers of film and those craving light escapism from the current climate alike sought access to their favourite movies and series in a variety of ways. Ever popular streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime were joined by new-cinema tycoon Disney+ at just the right time. With all of the Disney movies released in one place on March 24th 2020, we’ve had the opportunity to find comfort in old classics and childhood stories that have provided comfort following the announcement of the UK lockdown in the same week.
It was reported in April that Netflix had gained 16 million new subscribers thanks to the lockdown, which comes without surprise – especially as this time saw the premier of now world-renowned series Tiger King which seemed to have just as much coverage on social media as the Coronavirus did at one point, if not more.
Returning to Hollywood
Just as some films scheduled for release never made it to silver screen, filming and production of other movies did not safely go ahead. With long-awaited releases such as Black Widow and Top Gun: Maverick being pushed back to 2021 at the earliest, it is also clear that films that could have been competing for Hollywood’s highest accolades at the very quickly approaching award season may not have even had a chance to be viewed yet. With the pandemic cancelling the summer film festivals that are usually the start of the winter award anticipation and recommendations, including Cannes and Telluride, we are unlikely to have an awards season like any that have come before.
Due to this too, we also found our local cinema schedules to be rather different than normal when they reopened at the end of the summer. Filling the bill with classic favourites such as Jurassic Park, Dirty Dancing and Back to the Future, to name but a few, cinemas across the UK hoped to get viewers back in their seats and enjoying big-screen cinema once again.
Following the Film Distributors’ Association ‘Relaunching Cinema: Content for Recovery’ campaign, 450 films (mainly old, but some new too) were approved to be shown in British cinema in an attempt to attract a wide and varied audience back to the industry.
Social Distancing at the Movies
I did find when returning to my local cinema in August (when establishments had only just reopened and should’ve been taking the precautionary measures more seriously than ever) the social distancing guidelines were not always adequate, and did put me off going back again for a while to come. Many people have also felt this way as rows were booked too close to other parties and masks were not required if you had snacks to enjoy throughout the screening.
This experience did encourage me, however, to give in to nostalgia and enjoy the outdoors cinema events that had been put on to provide people with not only a safe way to enjoy film, but also a memorable experience too. The return of the drive-in cinema shaped the summer for many, with companies up and down the UK using the social-distancing measurements as a perfect opportunity to entice customers to enjoy nostalgic movie-magic from the comfort of their own isolated cars. Not only is this safe and fun, but it’s also a very novel experience that makes being isolated more special than watching a movie for another night.
A night at the drive-in is also an excellent opportunity to try and make some unforgettable summer memories in these awful times, thanks to a glimmer of escapism and heart-warming nostalgia found only in our favourite movies and in times with loved ones simultaneously. As a weather dependent activity, however, outdoor screenings will not be on the bill for the winter lockdown series, so our movie nights will have to change once more. Has lockdown changed the way that we consume cinema all together?
Change of Season, Change of Habit
As winter comes, and we spend more time working on the sofa instead of in the office, we have the streaming world right at our fingertips and being actively encouraged too. On dreary days or in long home-office hours, what could be better than tuning in to a new TV series, some feel-good films, or a documentary or two? Usually in the winter months, I would choose to spend my time in coffee shops, Christmas shopping or enjoying a range of markets and Winter Wonderlands, but with no jolly-holiday festivities on the cards at the moment I’ll be sticking to watching as many seasonal movies on Netflix as I possibly can.
This volume of streaming consumption is not usually something I would plan to do amidst what would normally be a return to lectures and full-time studying, but what harm is adding a few extra series to your list now to enjoy alongside the home working climate. After all, if you can’t feel guiltless binge watching all 11 seasons of Modern Family in a few days in an effort to isolate during a global pandemic then, when can you?