Hollywood Executives Weigh in On the Post-Pandemic Future of the Entertainment Industry | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS
THE WRAP

Hollywood Executives Weigh In On The Post-Pandemic Future Of The Entertainment Industry

The pandemic came in like a thief in the night, putting lives, businesses, and the entire world on hold with no end in sight. So, when everyone was forced into isolation, the entertainment industry was severely crippled as it relied heavily on human interactions and communal spaces. Production had to shut down indefinitely, film releases were delayed, events were canceled, and cinemas completely closed (and some went bankrupt), causing entertainment professionals and movie enthusiasts to spiral out of control in fear of losing their jobs and favorite pastime.

During 2021’s The Wrap Power Women’s Summit panel entitled Exec Corner: Dealmakers, Deciders and Disruptors, industry veterans from major studios gave their two cents on the future of entertainment and revealed the secret weapon that would help keep the industry upright and thriving for many years to come.

Content is Still King

In January 1996, Bill Gates wrote in his essay a simple yet powerful statement that emphasizes that “Content is King.” Little did we know that 25 years later, this concept would be extremely relevant in today’s digital age wherein the internet has become an integral part of our lives, more so during the pandemic. The essence behind his famous words simply means that content creation is the golden ticket to creating and unlocking a marketplace that would generate billions of dollars in the future.

“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting. The television revolution that began half a century ago spawned a number of industries, including the manufacturing of TV sets, but the long-term winners were those who used the medium to deliver information and entertainment.”

content creation is the golden ticket to creating and unlocking a marketplace that would generate billions of dollars in the future

The president of Warner Bros. Pictures, Courtenay Valenti, along with MGM and Epix’s co-general manager and executive vice president of TV operations, Laura Sher, shared insider knowledge on how the industry has shifted and adapted during the pandemic as well as what the future holds for Hollywood. Both acknowledged that these unprecedented times we’re living in disrupted the way content is made and consumed, but the industry has always been well-equipped with the right tools and knowledge to adapt to major changes since its early days.

Being stuck in isolation, filmmakers, creatives, influencers, as well as the public were quick to jump on social media and streaming platforms to use as an outlet to express themselves, create content, and engage with their audiences. Valenti echoed Gates’ disposition and emphasized that this pandemic has proven that “content has always been king” in the digital age and there has been a higher demand for movies and TV shows during this exceptional time.

Hollywood Executives Weigh in On the Post-Pandemic Future of the Entertainment Industry | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS
THE WRAP

Heading Into Unchartered Territory

Streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, Apple TV+, and Amazon have truly influenced consumer behavior and culture, revolutionized content distribution, and gave the entertainment industry a new lease on life while the movie theatres have been forcefully shut to the public. In fact, Valenti mentioned that the major shift during this time has something to do with where people want to watch content, films, and TV shows. These streaming platforms created new trends in the movie-going experience, especially among the younger generation.

For instance, people are willing to go to the theatres and invest their money in epic or big tent pole films and they would prefer to enjoy mid-size films on streaming platforms in the comfort of their own homes. Netflix garnered a whopping 26 million new subscribers just in the first half of 2020. Major studios such as Universal, Warner Bros., and Disney made a daring decision to cancel the theatrical release of their blockbuster films and opt to release on their respective streaming platforms instead.

As for the million-dollar question on which kind of content will thrive in the future, the veteran executives confessed that it is just impossible to know what is going to work. Valenti added that it’s their job as executives to simply take risks as nobody could predict the future. Sher agreed and stressed that “No one wants to make predictions. The only thing that I’ve found is that the industry, whatever sector is very resilient. I mean, we sort of figured out how to produce content in the middle of a pandemic, right?”

Just as the great William Goldman once said in his book Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting, “the single most important fact, perhaps, of the entire movie industry: NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING.”

On the other hand, Sher articulated that because they don’t know what’s going to work, the industry oftentimes plays it safe by going back to remaking films or shows as well as producing known intellectual properties with a proven following already. However, studio executives are still on the hunt for original content and fresh voices. At the end of the day, people would like to see great storytelling. As simple as it sounds, the industry is all about finding beautiful stories and extraordinary storytellers. “There is no checklist of what makes a great film, so you just really need to listen and find exciting voices,” Valenti said.

As simple as it sounds, the industry is all about finding beautiful stories and extraordinary storytellers

Despite the pandemic’s destructive effects over the past two years, the entertainment industry has adapted quickly to the rapidly changing circumstances and has managed to establish safe and effective ways to keep creating content for their audiences. In fact, new trends have emerged and the industry will have to fully embrace streaming platforms as a means to distribute content and reach their audiences. Quality content will always be the lifeline of Hollywood and the future of the industry is in the hands of passionate creators to keep using their voices as well as sharing diverse and innovative stories for the world to see.

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