Pandemic in Progress: attend movies safely

Last December, Fox-owned Tubi acquired MarVista Entertainment (think Lifetime movies) with an aim at targeting its content to their AVOD supported streaming service. Also toward the end of last year, ITC studios (based in London England) announced it would double its number of scripted hours and according revenue in an ambitious plan unveiled before investors. Other interesting pivots include AMC theaters, becoming the first theater chain to release commercials in 2021, and having a best in year fourth quarter for audience turn out (granted, there was a parade of great blockbusters last fall) in addition to branding its own popcorn and acquiring niche cinemas in Los Angeles. Finally, publicly traded tech company Unity entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital for 1.625 billion dollars in a combination of cash and stock. The tech assets of Weta will be allocated under Weta Digital whereas Peter Jackson’s visual effects business will remain separate and under the banner WetaFX.

As might be expected, the Omicron surge over the holidays caused many public events to shut down or otherwise move online, including the Critics Choice Awards and the Sundance Film Festival. In movie theaters, audience members were quoted as feeling more safe because of vaccines and access to oral pills to treat Covid. The Los Angeles Times reported that in the face of Omicron, masking with an N95 mask, social distancing, and being vaccinated (and boosted) were critical to maintaining health while moviegoing. They published Dr. Peter Chin-Hong’s A-B-C(also C)-D of attending movies safely during the pandemic. As for Sundance, the Utah film festival went completely virtual again in 2022, including screenings at arthouse cinemas around the country. This is particularly important for public health because the festival takes place in a remote part of the country, so festival planners considered essential services workloads and scaled back the event accordingly.

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