The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted virtually all aspects of life, but just because the world is metaphorically on fire doesn't mean you can't come out ahead. The movie industry has been at a standstill since March, but that doesn't mean that all of the major studios have lost. Some of the studios have managed to adapt pretty well all things considered, and these five studios are the ones that have come out ahead in these extremely trying times.
Universal has been all over this pandemic in the right way. When everyone started delaying their movies in a couple of months back in March, Universal was ahead of the game and said that they were delaying a major release like F9 a full year to 2021. At the time, that seemed like a lot, and people were side-eyeing the studio for doing that. Now it's August, and it very much appears like Universal was ahead of everyone else when it came to setting realistic expectations for when we're going to get back to the movies. Universal was also the first studio to release a major theatrical release onto VOD with Trolls World Tour, which showed that you could make the VOD model work if you aren't trying to make back a huge budget. Finally, Universal absolutely came out ahead of the game because they managed to net a deal with AMC that says they can release movies on VOD seventeen days after the movie premieres in theaters. That is massive and could the first deal to show what the new normal could look like in a post-COVID world.
NEON is having a great year, and that is because they are releasing excellent movies on streaming services, and they are hitting big. Some of the most talked-about films this year have been NEON movies, including Palm Springs, Shirley, and Big Time Adolescence. Palm Springs was a Sundance movie that was supposed to have a theatrical release. Instead, NEON teamed up with Hulu for an early July release, and pretty much everyone under the sun watched the movie. Shirley and Big Time Adolescence have also released on streaming and VOD over the course of the pandemic, and both done exceptionally well. Palm Springs, in particular, was a gamble considering how much NEON paid for it, but it's one that seems to have paid off.
We all knew that streaming services were going to do well in the age of quarantine, but Netflix has released some massive movies this year. The Old Guard alone would earn Netflix a place on this list, a superhero movie in the time when all superhero movies are getting delayed? You couldn't ask for a better equation for that movie to do exceptionally well. However, that is not the only movie Netflix has released this year. Extraction also did exceptionally well for the streaming service along with Da 5 Bloods, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, and The Kissing Booth 2 have also been big movies that everyone has been talking about. Netflix still has a whole pile of movies that they are looking to release this year, and they are looking to buy the rights for The Woman in the Window from Disney, which could be another massive movie for them.
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This is a studio that most people haven't heard of, but you should because they are virtually the only studio doing well at the box office right now. One of the movies you might have heard of that they did was Train to Busan, aka one of the best zombie movies to come out in years. Well, if you're a fan of Train to Busan, you'll be thrilled to hear that not only is there a sequel, Peninsula, but it's a sequel that is currently doing extremely well. South Korea, more or less, has the COVID-19 virus under control, so their movie theaters are open. Since those theaters are open, Peninsula has brought in a nice $28 million box office, which is a nice little haul for them. That box office means they will have the money for distribution of some sort in other countries. Maybe theatrical releases in places where people are listening to health officials and a VOD release in the United States where people have to listen to their racist uncle on Facebook instead of doctors.
You might be wondering, why is Paramount on here? They didn't have a big VOD release or net a deal with theaters or anything like that. Well, Paramount is on this list because no studio was faster at taking COVID-19 seriously, and Paramount became the canary on the coal mine. They were the first studio to shut down a major production with Mission: Impossible 7 long before people in the states were even talking about the virus. They were also the first studio to announce a delay of a major movie with A Quiet Place Part II and were the ones that made the domino fall. We all knew that studios were going to delay, but they were playing a game of chicken to see who would delay first, and Paramount took that first step. They were also one of the only studios to have a box office hit this year with Sonic the Hedgehog to the point that they were able to get a sequel greenlit. So well done, Paramount, for being the first studio that really seemed to take this whole thing seriously. For that? You get a win.
Sony is our honorable mention! They quietly delayed all of their movies, but the reason why they get an honorable mention win is because they sold Greyhound to Apple, which did pretty well for them. Disney also gets an honorable mention and a place on the losers list, but that's for another day, for moving Artemis Fowl to Disney+, shortening the VOD release of Onward, and releasing Hamilton early. It's still way too early to see how Mulan works out for them, so we'll have to see.