It’s been a year of disruption and adaption for the film and TV landscape. With the announcement of a series of national lockdowns, cinemas were forced to shut their doors and big budget productions including Stranger Things and Succession ground to a halt. Meanwhile, traditional broadcasters rationed out episodes of our favourite soaps and got increasingly creative in order to keep us entertained amid the doom and gloom – resulting in everything from Charlie Brooker’s satirical review show Screenwipe being reincarnated as Antiviral Wipe, to ITV’s Isolation Stories by award-winning producer Jeff Pope, which was touted as the ‘first lockdown TV drama’.
As the world gradually begins to rebuild, the challenge facing broadcasters and production companies will be to find a middle ground between the deluge of high-end films and TV dramas we expected them to churn out pre-coronavirus, and the DIY, scrappy aesthetic born out of the pandemic. In the meantime, the UK government’s core message of ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’ provided the perfect opportunity to plonk ourselves down on our sofas and binge-watch our way through the glut of brilliant entertainment that 2020 had to offer. Here, we delve into the ups and downs of the year in film and TV.
HOLLYWOOD WENT VIRTUAL
While streaming platforms were already disrupting the long-held tradition of theatrical releases before 2020 (as seen with Netflix and the Safdie Brothers’ collaboration, Uncut Gems, which dropped in January), the trend accelerated this year with the closure of cinemas around the world. For every film release that was pushed back to 2021, including Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond and Wes Anderson’s latest, The French Dispatch, we saw hotly-anticipated blockbusters switch to streaming platforms instead, with Disney’s live action reboot of Mulan debuting on Disney+ and Spike Lee war joint Da 5 Bloods finding a new home on Netflix.
Warner Bros’ recent announcement that its 2021 slate of releases, including Dune and The Matrix 4, will premiere on HBO Max at the same time as they are released in cinemas was met with derision by much of industry. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, filmmaker Christopher Nolan led the charge, saying: “Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service. Warner Bros had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker’s work out everywhere, both in theatres and in the home, and they are dismantling it as we speak. They don’t even understand what they’re losing.”