Like the majority of industries during the COVID19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, the movie industry is currently on its knees.
Production companies, distributors, movie theatres, and movie professionals are either struggling to keep their head above water, or not open or working at all.
One of the world’s leading movie theater chains, AMC, announced in June that it was on the brink of bankruptcy.
AMC is an excellent example of just how much pain all segments of the movie business are in.
The chain was forced to close all its theatres in mid-march. On June 3, it announced that it expects to record losses of $2.4 billion for the 3 first months of 2020 alone.
The company has stated that it has doubts over whether it can “continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time”.
The Fragility of The Movie Business Model Exposed
Even as many states in the U.S have begun to reduce lockdown restrictions, the pain remains. The movie theatre business has been shown to be one of the least suitable business models for this kind of crisis.
A business that relies on packing as many people as possible into rooms that lack sufficient ventilation for an airborne virus, it has been forced to come up with radical ways of protecting people.
Certain U.S states are legally requiring cinemas to limit capacity to 25 percent, which will still mean movie theatre companies will be losing money. AMC has a roughly $250 million a quarter rent bill. Add staff and other operating expenses, and the dire picture becomes very clear.
Theatres will be implementing everything from a blanket face mask requirement to the use of disposable seat covers and electrostatic sprayers to help reduce the risk to customers, and more importantly, to spread confidence.
With the risk of new outbreaks of the virus, theatres may also find themselves being suddenly shut down once again as a result of local government lockdowns.
Such conditions are inevitably going to dramatically impact theatre takings, which will have a knock-on effect to the whole movie industry. With little money coming in, production companies will almost certainly be unwilling to spend money on making new movies.
One thing is clear in all parts of the industry, it is going to be a long and slow road to full recovery.
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Back In Action: When Filmmakers Return To Work After Coronavirus
Film productions are also going to face huge challenges when they restart.
This restart is only likely to be able to happen once social distance rules are repealed. Without this, actors won’t even be able to get close enough to do scenes.
While cleaver directors will be able to find some ways around this, a movie production is by its very nature, a close collaboration of all the involved professionals.
It is likely that a mandatory testing rule, much like that used in the pornography industry to prevent the spread of HIV, will be put in place until there is a mass vaccination program.
It is clear that filmmakers will have to use all their ingenuity to work around this problem and are going to need all the help they can get until this crisis is over.
AI: A Powerful Helping Hand
Artificial Intelligence is already hard at work helping moviemakers and film production companies to understand their movie audiences better.
So what can it do to help moviemakers through the crisis?
The beauty of AI is that it is a fast learner.
AI programs can analyze all the latest data and extrapolate patterns or trends in the blink of an eye. This means that they can’t be a powerful tool to help the movie industry deal with the problems above.
AI Can Provide Vital Distribution Insights
At the current time, getting as many bums on seats is the most important factor to the overall recovery of the industry.
The implementation of artificial intelligence big data analytics could be a vital tool in overcoming this problem. Predictive analysis of potential box office gross earnings is one of the key areas that AI is already being used by the leading AI-assisted moviemaking companies.
The process is simple.
AI-assisted moviemaking companies gather together great oceans of data relating to box office gross and the factors that might affect this. They then run their AI programs through the data in order to extrapolate patterns that can be used to provide insights to movie production companies.
These insights can be used to help distribution companies better understand the expected audience types and gross figures. Importantly, the top AI moviemaking companies offer this service for individual regions.
Herein lies the solution to the current problem.
Provided that accurate and up to date information can be obtained regarding audience numbers by region, this data can be analyzed by AI programs to give accurate predictions for expected audience numbers.
Provided that enough data is available, AI programs have the power to make accurate predictions as precise as the number of expected people on any given day of the week.
So, for example, AI will quickly identify that more action movie fans are going to theatres in California than Texas and that more people are going to watch movies during weekdays than at weekends, etc.
Both movie theatres and movie distributors will then be able to act on this data. The theatres will be able to plan more screenings around these times to compensate, while distributors will be able to concentrate more advertising in certain regions to compensate, etc.
This will help them maximize their return on investment both during and after the crisis.
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Boosting Online Viewers
Some AI companies recently began to make available a new service that analyzes and predicts viewing numbers for video-on-demand platforms such as Netflix.
This will be a great help to producers as it will help them to better understand which project to push and which to hold off on until the crisis is over, thereby helping them make the most of their now reduced budgets.
Since it is going to take companies time to rebuild their bank balances, when coupled with the existing project gross earning prediction service offered by AI companies, this becomes a vital service that will make all the difference.
A Little Help From a Friend
Last but not least are the moviemakers themselves. AI is being developed as a powerful tool to aid movie industry professionals to understand their audiences better.
Services such as script analysis, cast analysis, and movie recipe analysis allows filmmakers to, in effect, understand the audience’s reaction to their movies before they are even complete.
Utilizing AI to make their movies more appealing to audiences will ensure that they will be able to compete during a time when very few people are going to the cinema.
The industry as a whole has been slow to accept AI assistance, perhaps the coronavirus crisis will now change all that.