Six Movie Trends To Watch Out For In 2021

Here are some rather interesting movie trends we think you’ll guys need to watch out for in 2021. We’ve compiled six of them for you.

1. The role streaming will play in the future

Netflix stay at home movies

Credit: John-Mark Smith

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There’s no going back from the prominent role streaming will play in the future of moviegoing. Studios like Disney and especially Warner Bros. have placed a massive emphasis on their respective streaming services.

The only question remaining is just how prominent will that role be. While some have speculated that streaming will usurp movie theatres themselves, it’s hard to tell if that will actually be the case.

Disney, for example, has maintained their commitment to traditional theatrical releases, as have other studios like Sony/Columbia, MGM and A24. On the other hand, Warner Bros. will give all their 2021 titles simultaneous theatrical and HBO Max launches.

Though the company attributes this decision to the pandemic, it’s a move widely seen as being entirely separate from the health crisis and simply being a new method to boost HBO Max subscribers. Will Warner Bros. be the exception going forward or are they an omen of things to come?

2. The role of big blockbusters at major studios going forward

The last decade has seen major American movie studios dialling back on mid-budget fare in favour of massive summer blockbusters. That reliance has been complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. While some new blockbusters (like Uncharted and a new Spider-Man movie) have started filming since the pandemic began, these are tricky properties to pull off in the world’s new status quo.

How can you make movies that naturally involve hundreds of extras and crew members without turning the set into a petri dish of diseases? Sony/Columbia has reportedly begun to emphasize making smaller-scale crowdpleaser fare that can be made safely during the pandemic.

Early examples of this trend include Brad Pitt’s Bullet Train and Untitled Adam Driver Thriller. The strongbox office of mid-budget movies released directly before the pandemic, like Hustlers, Knives Out and Joker, could also help incentivize Hollywood to make more grounded movies aimed at general audiences.

The allure of one day reaching $1+ billion box office hauls again means blockbusters will probably still enduring during the pandemic. But there are elements in place that could see Hollywood rejigger the kind of mass-appeal movies it creates.

3. How superhero movie franchises will fare after going dormant in 2020.

black widow disney 2020 blockbuster releases

Credit: Marvel Studios

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Superheroes weren’t entirely absent from 2020, thanks to Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman 1984. However, they were largely absent from the pop culture landscape after years of dominating it.

In 2021 and 2022, though, these movies will come roaring back with a vengeance. The question is, will they still be what moviegoers want to see?

Strong widespread social media responses to new images and trailers for upcoming superhero blockbusters like The Batman indicates that the general populace is still enamoured with these movies. However, that adoration will get tested with so many of these movies due out for release in the next 24 months.

To boot, complaints about Wonder Woman 1984 and its dismissive attitude towards everyday people raises some concerns. With the exception of the occasional Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, many modern superhero movies tend to be focused more on demigods, billionaires and other powerful figures than ordinary individuals.

Will that feel out-of-place in a post-COVID-19 world where people are more aware of the importance of everyday people than ever before? In other words, the superhero movie, a subgenre always in a form of evolution, may have to even more drastically alter itself to fit into the new pop culture zeitgeist.

4. Are movie theatres doomed or due for a resurgence?

The strong theatrical box office in China over the last six months indicates that theatrical exhibition as a whole isn’t going anywhere. In America, though, that’s a different story.

Box office has been tepid in the last five months of domestic theatres reopening. Additionally, studios like Warner Bros. have begun to refuse to support the industry in the long-term.

This means the American movie theatre sector is in a fragile place. A new government relief package will at least help U.S. independent chains.

Plus, if people really crave entertainment outside of their homes once vaccinations become widespread, movie theatres could be due for an unprecedented resurgence. Still, all this uncertainty makes it difficult to ascertain what the future holds for movie theatres.

5. Will the movies themselves respond to the pandemic?


Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

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Throughout history, movies have always responded to larger events in the real world. Art, after all, does not happen in a vacuum.

Will the same be true of art made in a post-COVID-19 world? Already, the likes of Songbird and Locked Down have tried to capitalize on the pandemic by incorporating it into their plot.

However, it’s so far unclear if this is something people want, particularly in escapist entertainment like thrillers or summer blockbusters. It doesn’t help that most of these films have referenced the pandemic in shallow ways, like tired toilet paper shortage jokes, rather than responding to the health crisis in an insightful way.

Successful movies in the past that responded to the then-modern culture, like Easy Rider or Bonnie & Clyde, became so successful because they had something profound to offer on the world, not just because they tipped their hat to then-current events. Perhaps cinematic responses to the pandemic would be more digestible if they took a cue from those classic movies.

Tapping into emotions spurred on by this health crisis, rather than slapping facemasks on the whole cast or retreading social distancing jokes, could make for great cinema.

6. Who will rule the worldwide box office in 2021?

In 2020, history was made at the worldwide box office. For the first time ever, the United States of America was not atop the worldwide box office.

Instead, China ruled the worldwide box office by a significant margin. 2021 will be an intriguing case study to see if this is an anomaly or a sign of a new world order.

Already, China has got a massive head start on U.S. box office. Litter Red Flower and Soul delivered robust grosses in China’s first-weekend box office frame of 2021. By contrast, the first U.S. weekend box office frame of 2021 was muted with a lacklustre second-weekend gross of Wonder Woman 1984.

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