From SXSW cancellations to a James Bond delay, how coronavirus is impacting the entertainment industry

Actor Daniel Craig reacts during a promotional appearance on TV in Times Square for the new James Bond movie “No Time to Die” in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 4, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

As the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, the entertainment industry has heeded health notices and travel restrictions by canceling events and postponing productions planned for the near future.

The Chinese film business suffered a swift blow when nearly all the country’s cinemas shut down after the covid-19 strain began spreading in Wuhan, the capital of the country’s Hubei province. That impact has since been felt around the world by Italian productions and American festivals alike.

Some moves, like the James Bond producers’s costly decision to postpone the latest film’s release by several months, have surprised the industry. The decision to not cancel or push events has also caused rifts in some cases, such as the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference director resigning over its continuance. Though several large companies like Netflix and WarnerMedia have pulled out of South by Southwest, the Austin festival is also proceeding as planned.

Countless jobs will be affected by the virus, and financial reverberations for individuals, companies and economies will last months, at the least.

Here is a reverse timeline of how the coronavirus outbreak has affected the industry.

March 5: WarnerMedia pulls out of South by Southwest.

The entertainment conglomerate – which is comprised of HBO, Turner and Warner Bros – announced in a statement that, as a precaution, it had “decided it best not to move forward with activations at SXSW.”

A panel planned for the popular series “Supernatural,” which airs on the CW, a network co-owned by WarnerMedia, had already been removed from the SXSW schedule as of March 4. Other affiliated events included a keynote session with HBO’s “Watchmen” collaborators Damon Lindelof, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross; a conversation with Robin Thede, showrunner of HBO’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show”; and a panel headlined by TBS talk show host Samantha Bee.

The communications team for CNN, which is owned by WarnerMedia, also tweeted out the company statement. Several CNN journalists had been set to attend SXSW.

March 4: Netflix and Apple follow Amazon Studios in canceling their SXSW plans.

Variety reported that Netflix had canceled film screenings for a feature and four documentaries, as well as a panel for the upcoming show “Black Excellence,” starring Kenya Barris and Rashida Jones. Apple, which planned to premiere two original series and Spike Jonze’s Beastie Boys documentary, also pulled out.

These media exits followed the Amazon Studios decision to cancel its events.

March 4: The Ultra Music Festival is indefinitely postponed.

The festival, Miami’s “marquee electronic dance music event,” per the Miami Herald, will not be held as scheduled on March 20-22. Postponing the event was a joint decision between the city’s elected leaders and Ultra representatives, the newspaper reported. New dates haven’t yet been announced.

March 4: “No Time to Die” postpones its worldwide premiere.

After canceling the Chinese premiere, longtime James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, along with MGM and Universal, announced they would be pushing the worldwide release date of “No Time to Die” from April to November. The producers wrote in a statement that the costly decision had been made “after careful consideration and thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace.”

March 2: Facebook and Twitter pull out of SXSW.

Despite calls for SXSW to be canceled in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the festival will continue – but not as planned. A number of companies have canceled plans to have representatives travel to Austin this month, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s dozen speakers.

March 2: The National cancels its Japanese concerts.

The indie rockers canceled a pair of Tokyo tour dates “in the interest of public safety,” according to a tweeted statement. Phoebe Bridgers had been set to open the mid-March shows.

Feb. 28: The Cannes Film Festival issues a statement.

Hours after the first recorded case of coronavirus in the city of Cannes, the film festival told Variety that “as of today, it is still premature to express assumptions” on the mid-May event.

Festival staff will continue to prepare for the event, according to a statement that clarified that they would “take all the necessary measures, aiming at ensuring the protection of all attendees.”

Feb. 28: CBS halts “The Amazing Race” production.

After filming a few episodes in the United Kingdom, the 33rd season of “The Amazing Race” hit pause over “increased concerns and uncertainty regarding the coronavirus around the world.”

Feb. 28: Green Day postpones its Asian tour dates.

Green Day, which planned to tour Asia this spring, indefinitely postponed shows in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and South Korea: “We know it sucks, as we were looking forward to seeing you all, but hold on to your tickets, we’ll be announcing the new dates very soon,” the rock band said.

Feb. 27: BTS cancels its Korean concerts.

The K-pop group canceled and reimbursed fans for the four Seoul shows that would have opened the “Map of the Soul” concert tour, all of which were to be held April in Jamsil Olympic Stadium.

Feb. 27: Hollywood speaks up.

A representative of the Motion Picture Association – which represents the Disney, Paramount, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros. and Netflix film studios – told Deadline that the trade organization was “closely monitoring” the spread of coronavirus and that it would “continue taking the necessary precautions” to ensure the health of customers and employees worldwide.

SAG-AFTRA, the labor union with roughly 160,000 members, noted that it was tracking updates from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. State Department.

Feb. 26: “Mission: Impossible 7” shuts down production in Italy.

The seventh film in the “Mission: Impossible” series was set to shoot in Venice for three weeks – a plan put on hold after the number of confirmed cases in Italy surpassed 100. Some museums closed temporarily and, according to CNN, reopened with new safety measures in place.

“Out of an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our cast and crew, and efforts of the local Venetian government to halt public gatherings in response to the threat of coronavirus, we are altering the production plan,” a representative from Paramount Pictures said in a statement.

Feb. 24: Paramount delays the Chinese release of “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

The famous hedgehog won’t be speeding through Chinese theaters anytime soon, per Deadline.

Feb. 21: A major Chinese production is delayed.

Chinese director Jia Zhangke, known for dramas such as “A Touch of Sin” and “Ash Is Purest White,” told IndieWire when he was at the Berlin Film Festival that he was in the midst of planning another film when the coronavirus broke out in the Wuhan region. He had wanted to shoot in April, given that the story takes place in the spring and summer, but must now postpone it until next year at the earliest.

“Maybe we’ll write a new script,” he added, smiling.

Feb. 17: “No Time to Die” cancels its Beijing premiere.

The latest James Bond film – and Daniel Craig’s last – was originally set for an April premiere in China. That portion of the publicity tour was postponed.

Feb. 14: Khalid postpones his Asian tour dates.

R&B singer-songwriter Khalid became one of the first American artists to postpone a concert tour over “the recent advisories and travel restrictions,” as AEG Presents announced on Instagram.

Feb. 4: Disney delays the Chinese release of “Mulan.”

Shortly after announcing that next year will be his last as chief executive of Disney, Bob Iger confirmed to CNBC that the Chinese release date of “Mulan” had been delayed indefinitely. The highly anticipated film, a live-action adaptation of the classic story, will be released March 27 in the United States.

Jan. 23: Thousands of Chinese theaters are shut down.

The day after Chinese studios canceled seven blockbuster releases, cinema chains shuttered thousands of theaters across the country. Variety reported in March that the Chinese box office had plummeted $1.91 billion over the first two months of the year as a result of this shutdown.

Jan. 22: Major Chinese film releases are canceled.

Lunar New Year is the “biggest blockbuster period in the world,” according to the Hollywood Reporter, which stated that major studios voluntarily postponed releases after medical experts warned against congregating in crowded public spaces. By this point, multiple cities were on “lockdown.”

Some of the delayed films include “Detective Chinatown 3″ and “Lost in Russia.” The latter wound up premiering online, as did “Enter the Fat Dragon,” which was also planned for a January release.



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