Fewer actors and staff on set, stricter health guidelines, and postponed film dates; the pandemic is taking a toll on the entertainment industry.

In 2020, almost 100 movie releases have been postponed from their original release date in the United States. Some have been postponed until next year and others at the end of this year, like Pixar’s film Soul, starring Jamie Foxx, which will be released in the Disney Plus platform on Christmas Day. 

As months have passed, the pandemic continues to impact the entertainment industry and the film industry in Arizona is adapting to the new normal with the current COVID-19 health restrictions. 

Film students from ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts had to reschedule their projects and productions because of the risks social gatherings bring amid the pandemic. 

“I didn’t get a chance to film my projects at the time [in the spring]. We postponed it a couple times, thinking we would wait towards them to see what summer turned into and what the beginning of September, October would look like. Obviously, things didn’t necessarily get better,” said Nori Matsushita, a senior double majoring in film and communications.

At this time in the semester senior students were supposed to be filming their final projects. Some had to change the dates, scripts, reduce the length of the original film, rework their initial projects and align it as close to the school’s regulations as possible, according to Valeria Valdes Cosilion, vice president of the Entertainment Business Association at ASU.

With all the health regulations in place, such as sanitizing equipment and reducing the cast, film productions will experience delays as it requires more work within the restricted time to work with. 

On August 28, Harkins Theatres reopened their locations in Arizona operating under COVID-19 protocols. Since their reopening, the number of moviegoers has decreased. 

An employee from Harkins Theatres said that employees had experienced a decrease in work hours and reduced staff since March this year. 

“I’ll be lucky if I get two or three shifts in a week,” said the employee, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Harkins has relied on showing old movies and offering popcorn curbside pickup to keep their business going, the Harkins employee said how it’s rare to see at least 20 customers in a regular day. 

“I definitely think that a lot of our guests moved to the drive-ins just because it’s probably safer in their car rather than seats that other people have been,” the employee said. 

In the summer, many people remained isolated and relied on streaming services to keep themselves and their families entertained. Now that entertainment and local businesses are starting to reopen it’s a matter of time until customers feel comfortable to go out again, keeping in mind the pandemic isn’t over yet. 

“Movie theaters are going to have to find a way to make the experience more meaningful and want to encourage people to come out of their homes,” Valdes said.

Despite the challenges the film industry faces, Valdes encourages everyone to think outside of the box in situations like this. She says there will always be limitations put on creativity, whether it’s in the real world, budget or time.

“It’s definitely just like another challenge that’s we’re going to have to find new solutions to overcome,” Valdes said.