As the pandemic continues to delay productions and push back release dates, Netflix as we know it may start to change as Hollywood shifts with the times.
Netflix, the reigning king of streaming platforms, has studiously shepherded its millions of subscribers through this pandemic, seemingly with ease. Content, both original and licensed, has steadily been added to its collection without pause for months. COVID-19, however, is still lingering through the U.S. with no predictable end in sight. Hollywood has ground to a halt forcing productions to be delayed and, in a surprising turn, renewals to be reversed.
As we head into a shaky fall TV season with networks like The CW and CBS opting to air content that was previously behind a paywall, it’s beginning to look like unknown territory as Hollywood scrambles to figure out their content problem. The Society and I Am Not Okay with This were recently axed by Netflix despite a greenlit second season for the former, and a hitherto assumed all but in writing sophomore season for the latter.
The streamer cited the pandemic as a reason for moving forward without both shows on their roster. Production delays and budget increases to comply with COVID safety protocols is a major issue in Hollywood right now. Though ViacomCBS’s decision to pivot toward adult animation with Comedy Central over live-action scripted shows is not COVID=related, it does make one wonder if other networks and platforms will follow in their footsteps.
Disney just released its first look at Raya and the Last Dragon, one of their first animated features developed remotely due to the pandemic. Animation is an art form that can be done from home, allowing artists and actors to keep themselves and their families safe. While that film is slated for release in 2021, perhaps Hollywood’s eye will turn to animation to carry us through when productions are inevitably halted during outbreaks of corona until a viable vaccine is available.
Or Netflix may turn to scripted television done at a distance. The streamer will be rolling out a quarantine anthology titled Social Distance sometime in the near future. Filmed similarly to Freeform’s Love in the Time of Corona, the anthology is described as thus:
Set in the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Social Distance is an eight-part anthology series that showcases the power of the human spirit in the face of uncertainty and isolation. Each standalone episode is told through a virtual lens and captures the unique emotional experience of being forced apart by circumstance and having no choice but to communicate remotely and rely on technology to maintain any sense of connection. Through these varied and deeply human stories, Social Distance aims to provide some much-needed catharsis during a tumultuous time while also capturing a snapshot of this singular moment in history.
Whatever Netflix decides to do as its vault begins to empty is still up in the air. Netflix is a global platform, it could rely on I.P. from countries that have managed to lower their cases and flatten the curve. Doing so could mean American audiences embracing non-U.S. focused content as a means of continuing to binge-watch our way through this pandemic.
It could also mean Netflix originals with smaller casts, less filming on location, and more shooting on sound stages. Productions with big sweeping budgets to accommodate the sheer breadth of everyone involved are a liability in these times.
The more people you have on set, the higher risk of spread if there’s an outbreak. Content providers are contending with a future that has to change on a dime if someone tests positive. Cast and crew bubbles like that of The Witcher season 2’s production help but this isn’t a viable solution for all sets especially those filming in the U.S.
We’re heading into a new age, Netflix fans. One where filming comes with risks and the security of a renewal has lost its credibility. 2020 truly has welcomed us into a decade set to change the world as we know it.
What do you think Netflix’s content will look like in the near future? Serve up our thoughts in the comments below! For more, follow the Netflix category on FanSided.com.