Does anyone else miss going to the theatre to see a movie? So many Hollywood blockbuster films that I was looking forward to see this year have all been delayed either to later release dates in 2020, or not until 2021. And, for a few, the dates are unknown. We are all in a movie vacuum. It is very disturbing, at least to me. I feel a loss, do you?
Major films release dates have moved, such as: Wonder Woman 1984 to August 14th, Black Widow to November 6th, James Bond’s next adventure, No Time to Die to November 25th, Mulan to July 24th, F9 to April 2nd (2021), and A Quiet Place 2 (unknown).
Worst of all, they have pushed several mega blockbusters such as: Top Gun: Maverick out to December 23rd, The Batman to October 1st (2021), and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to November 5th (2021) too.
The Hollywood movie machine is in utter chaos.
Many are questioning if it will even survive the COVID-19 pandemic? Or, if it will be forever transformed away from what we know today into some new form in the future?
Television is facing equal disruptions. TV series are not currently in production, so we are watching reruns of older content. Since I have seen most of it already, or at least most of the content that I wish to view, it is all pretty boring.
Some series are planned for and released directly on streaming services, so they are being leveraged to attract new subscribers. Everyone is locked at home hungry for new episodes of their favorites series. They are starving to reunite with their fantasy shows, dramas, comedies, documentaries, and more. Beyond that, folks are getting sick, fed up, and depressed over the endless news reports about the coronavirus. The daily reports of the death toll from the virus are truly exhausting. So, even news is broken.
We need more optimism in our content. We need more Star Trek: Picard with its undying hope for tomorrow.
Sadly, we are at a time when we have hundreds of TV options and nothing worth watching is on.
Personally, I find little interest in the talk shows that have struggled to remain relevant by broadcasting from the hosts homes and engaging stars and celebrities who are also not in the studio. The celebrities are all trying to remain popular and relevant, so they hunt aggressively for any media and press attention. Yet, they have very little to say, other than how they are surviving at home in their mansions. They struggle to keep entertained, just like the rest of us. For the most part, these talk shows are boring and uninteresting.
Other forms of entertainment, such as music content, have morphed too.
All of the major concert tours are currently cancelled and recording studios are closed, so artists cannot come together to produce new songs. Instead they use Zoom and other web meeting tools to collaborate virtually. Most of it is very poorly made and lacks any quality that we expect from our favourite performers. A few bands have recreated older hits and released them over web meeting platforms that have been pretty good since we already know and love the song. One performance of note was the Doobie Brothers’ Black Water. Sure, I am showing my age liking this song, but the web meeting song was very well done. To be fair, it was not really ‘live to air’ as it had a lot of post-production and polish to it.
I enjoy Billie Eilish (and her brother, Finneas) a lot, but several of her web meeting songs have been pretty poor quality to listen too. Not that she is bad, it is just that she needs to have better and more microphones. The production need much more attention to pick up the superb quality of her sultry voice.
I suspect that music will survive okay, it is already streamed successfully and much easier to produce compared to films or TV shows, But, live concerts are likely at great risk. Who wants to gamble catching the virus by spending an evening jammed into a music hall, stadium, or arena with hundreds or thousands of others? The statistical risk is unacceptable. It will take some time for live concerts to return, if they ever do.
Sports events like my beloved Toronto Raptors, treasured Toronto Blue Jays, demonized Toronto Maple Leafs, and adored Formula 1 car races will all likely return soon. It is said that when the sports teams do return that they will play games without any fans in the stands. That is too bad. A lot of the sporting experience is the ‘experience’ itself. As humans, we love to join in and be a part of the excitement. Heck, I watch most Raptors games from my living room. My wife leaves to knit, but the dogs stay sleeping all around me. However, when I cheer for a great play, or boo a bad referee call, the dogs wake up startled and fear that I am angry and my yelling is at them. Slowly, during every game, one by one, they grow tired of me disrupting their sleep with my enthusiasm and they seek out my wife’s retreat to drift off to never-land again. By the half, I am always alone. Alone, except for the other nearly 20,000 fans in the arena cheering along with me. What will a game be like without the audience? Pretty boring, I suspect.
I have tried to watch NASCAR, IndyCar, and Formula 1 on TV. They are trying to use video game technology with the drivers at a gaming controller and competing against each other virtually from home. This is a colossal waste of time. Even though I have nothing better to do, I will not watch these simulated races again. When viewing a recent IndyCar race, the announcers tried and failed to recreate the excitement from a traditional live action car race. What a total disaster. They repeatedly talked about the driver’s mechanic coaching him from the pits. What the hell? These are virtual video games. No mechanics are needed, nor can they do anything even if they are there. What a complete farce. No show is better – than watching these virtual car race shows. IndyCar obviously has no idea what they are doing. And, it completely disrespects the fans.
So, bringing back the races without fans seems like a bad idea in car racing too.
The same can be said for American football, European football (soccer), Cricket (no one ever watched that sport anyway), and a myriad of other mass audience sports. Golf would be just as boring to watch, so no one will actually notice that there are no fans to be clobbered by long drives sliced off the fairways. So, golf can proceed. lol
We all have our cravings for entertainment. But, will they be satisfied soon? Or, will the hunger continue?
The virus actually offers a unique opportunity to transform entertainment. To make it better. Some will want it all to simply return to the same way it was, but there is an opportunity to improve the value of these forms of entertainment. Maybe we should embrace this situation as a chance to explore possibilities and reinvent entertainment?
About the Author:
Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for applications that use broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies.
He is a business and technology consultant. He offers his services on a contracting basis. Over the past 15 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).
Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V).
He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section.
He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 15 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.