Movies and Streaming Services

By: Marko Kralj

As of December 10, 2020

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, movie theaters have closed since they are not able to allow for a safe vieCoronavirus: Winnipeg theatres reopen, but moviegoing experience has  changed - Winnipeg | Globalnews.cawing experience, this in turn has prevented many movie studios from releasing their movies or have even put a stop to the production of these big budget films. While COVID-19 has affected how movies are being filmed, streaming services have greatly benefited from the quarantine as there is a greater push to release digitally. Subscriptions to streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ have spiked as a result of the pandemic, these streaming services allow people to watch their favorite shows with their families and loved ones during this difficult time. While we may miss the experience of new movies coming to theaters we can agree. that these streaming services have definitely provided a neccessary escape to help us get through quarantine. Ultimately the pandemic has and will forever change the way in which movies, tv shows, and series are made, released, and viewed.

As previously stated many big budget films that were in production before the COVID-19 lockdown have had to cease production due to safety concerns or in some cases people on set contracting the virus. This is the case with a few film productions for various studios including Disney, and Warner brothers. Some examples of film productions that were forced to shut down include Matt Reeves' The Batman, was forced to shut down after multiple crew members including the star Robert Pattinson (in the photo on the right) who portrays the dark knight contracted COVID-19 and the release date has now been moved to October 1.2 The Fast and the Furious 9 had to be pushed back from its original May 15 release to April 2021.2 A studio that has taken a big hit as a result of the pandemic is Marvel Studios since all of their big films, new Disney+ series productions  and release dates have had to be pushed back. The Eternals has moved to February 12, 2021, Thor Love and Thunder moved to February 11, 2022, and Doctor Strange into the Multiverse has moved from May 7, 2021 to November 5, 2021, finally to March 25, 2022.2 The film studios being forced to release these films as a much later date has drastically affected their 5 year plans as well as their pockets.

Films that were ready to be released before the COVID-19 lockdown have had to push back to a much later release date.  Studios wanted fans to see these movies on the big screen and felt that releasing them on their streaming services would not generate the same buzz and revenue as  films  released in theatres. The films that fall into this category include the highly anticipated sequel to the 1986 classic Top Gun: Maverick which was fully finished before the lockdown but  had to be moved to December 23, 2020 from its original release date back on June 24, 2020.2  Another film that has unfortunatley been pushed back from its original release date of May 1, 2020 is the Black Widow solo film. this was a highly anticipated movie which would have been a kickstarter for phase 4 of the immensly popular MCU, unfortunately due to the pandemic it was pushed back to May 7, 2021.2   The delay in the Black Widow movie marks the first in over 12 years, that Marvel studios will not release any new films or TV series. Its clear that this is as a direct result of the global pandemic.                                                                                                                                    

The success of streaming services has truly been tremendous with many brand new shows taking over the media and having a great impact on pop culture. The first streaming service to note is one of the newest, Disney+ came out on November 12, 2019. The Disney+ streaming service offers a wide range of choice from the stories of a galaxy far far away in the Star Wars universe, to the classic Disney animated movies with some of your favourite characters such as Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King & Aladdin. Plus they offer amazing and insightful documentries from national geographic and even your favourite Pixar movies like Toy Story or Cars.  When talking about Disney you can't forget the mighty Avengers and Gaurdians of the Galaxy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

One popular series that has taken the world by storm and has definetley helped generate lots of subscription revenue for Disney+ is the new live action Star Wars series The Mandalorian. The show follows the tale of a rugged Mandalorian bounty hunter and the adorable child (dubbed by fans as Baby Yoda), on many thrilling adventures throughout the galaxy. The Mandalorian has been the most successful new show for Disney+, with the season 2 premiere being viewed by over 1.04 million households, and icreasing the overall viewership over the previous season by 73%.3   .With the new season of The Mandalorian being released on October 20, 2020 it generated 3.1 times more subscriptions then in previous months.3 The show has also lead to the production of amazing merchandise just in time for the 2020 holiday season and is sure to be on many peoples wishlists and hopefully in their stockings come Christmas morning. 

Another extermely popular new movie for Disney+ subscribers to view is the live action remake of the Disney classic Mulan. The film was released on September 4th where fans could pay $29.99 to view and own the film early or have the option to wait till the December 4th release date where they could view it as part of their regualr Disney+ subscription.4 The film was viewed early by approximately 8.77 million in the US and generating around $263 million in the US alone, putting it comfortably over the $200 million dollar budget film.4 The success of this film also begs the question,  should other film companies release their movies onto streaming services such as Netflix or Disney+ or, continue to hold off in hopes that theaters will be able to open safely again? The decision to release digitally is a gamble, but with statistics showing that subscribers are willing to pay for quality entertainment during the current lockdown, film studios are questioning whether or not they should release their big budget films to the digital small screen instead of hoping for the big one to return.

Netflix, one of the most popular and original streaming services to note, with over 193 million subscribers to their streaming service. One new series which has greatly impacted pop culture is The Queens Gambit ,with over 62 million accounts viewing the series.5 Not only has the show generated immense streaming revenue and currently being in the Canadian top 10 trending on Netflix, but it has also has imensly affected the current popularity of the game of chess.  Google and Ebay are reporting an increased number of searches for "chess sets" and "how to play chess" and many other questions related to the game of chess.5 This goes to show how entertainment has really impacted people in the real world and given us a much needed escape from this negative and difficult time.  As so many of us struggle, we can still have and find a way to relax and enjoy these stories with our loved ones. According to Forbes some other shows that were released in 2020 in the top 10 in Canada were Tiger King, Lock and Key, Space Force, Outer Bank's, Love is blind, Never Have I Ever, Sweet Magnolias, Ratched, and The Circle.1 All these new releases along with many other popular series and movies that have been on Netflix for years have helped the company remain the top streaming services, adding 10.1 million new subscribers and generated net earnings of $720 million in the second quarter of 2020.6

Since the lockdown, with so many restrictions in place, movie theatres continue to be closed.  While we can't enjoy the new blockbusters in theatres, on the big screen, while wearing those 3-D glasses, we have have had the ability to conveniently and safely from the comfort of our homes, find distraction in watching movies and  binge watching tv series.  Streaming service subscriptions have and will continue to rise as long as new series and movies are released to entice the viewers. Overall the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way movies are made, released, and viewed forever.


1. Feldman, Dana. “Here Are The 10 Most-Watched Netflix Original And Limited Series Of 2020.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, December 9, 2020.

2. Fowler, Matt. “Coronavirus Movie Delays: Every Film and Show Affected by COVID-19.” IGN. IGN, November 6, 2020.

3.  Hepburn, Tmera. “Disney+ Had Three Times the Average Number of Signups the Weekend of 'The Mandalorian' Release.” Cord Cutters News, November 10, 2020.

4. Kika, Thomas. “How Many People Have Actually Watched The 'Mulan' Remake On Disney+? New Data Released.” International Business Times, October 19, 2020.

5. Solsman, Joan E. “Queen's Gambit Becomes Netflix's Most-Watched Limited Series Yet.” CNET. CNET, November 24, 2020.

6. Zeitchik, Steven. "Netflix added 10.1 million subscribers this spring as people around the world stayed home, the pandemic delivers another good quarter for the streaming giant." The Washington Post, July16, 2020.