In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak that is rapidly spreading around the world, the global entertainment industry has been forced to hit pause. On March 13, Netflix announced that it was suspending production on all scripted TV series and films in the US and Canada for at least two weeks. That same day, Apple TV announced that projects such as See, Servant, For All Mankind, and The Morning Show, their tentpole show starring Jennifer Aniston, are temporarily suspended. Over the weekend, Amazon announced that they have shut down production on the Lord of the Rings series in New Zealand, after the country closed its borders last Friday; and Marvel Studios has halted the production for all of its Disney+ series, including Loki, WandaVision, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
At home, attempts to “flatten the curve” by practising social distancing led to cinema halls running nearly empty before state governments declared them closed to the public. Rohit Shetty’s latest action-drama starring Akshay Kumar, Sooryavanshi, did not release last week, but the Friday the 13th curse came true for Irrfan, who was making his comeback to Bollywood after a prolonged illness with Angrezi Medium. The film collected Rs 9.50 crore before cinema halls across the country were shuttered. The film’s director, Homi Adajania, released a statement: “We will re-release #AngreziMedium when it is safe to do so.”
On Sunday, the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPAA) issued a press release in conjunction with other entertainment associations in Mumbai, declaring that “shootings for all entertainment formats” will be stopped from March 19 till March 31. “Decision about re-starting shootings shall be taken on March 30, 2020, after considering the prevailing situation,” said the release signed by six administrative heads of Bollywood’s entertainment industry, including TP Aggarwal, IMPAA, and Ashoke Pandit of the Indian Film and Television Director’s Association.
Carnival Cinemas, the multiplex chain that boasts of over 450 screens in 120 cities across India, released a statement addressing the downturn in their business due to the COVID-19 outbreak. “This quarter is completely washed out and shall be down at least 40-50 per cent as compared to last year… After everything gets back to normalcy and film schedule is in place again, we are expecting that first quarter of 2020-21 should yield at least five-eight per cent more revenue as the current line-up of the films looks very promising, including 83, Raadhe, Laxxmi Bomb, Bond movie and many more,” said the press release issued by Mohan Umrotkar, CEO, Carnival Cinemas.
While actors and directors take a break from shooting, filmmaker Sudhir Mishra took to Twitter to share his concerns about how the two-week break will affect other crew members financially. He tweeted: “Shouldn’t we in the film industry set up a fund for the junior technicians, our light boys, set workers, sound assistants, etc.” Filmmakers Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane have agreed to support such an initiative, with the latter replying, “I’m in. Daily wage workers are going to have a really hard time, especially if this carries on beyond the end of the month.”
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