Back Row Thoughts – Going Viral

Hey, you know what you’ve never seen before? An unqualified guy opining about the coronavirus! Totally original! I’ve tried to just take the whole thing in stride, but as the entire goddamn universe collapses around us, I feel compelled to at least say something, especially in regards to how it affects this blog and my coverage going forward.

First things first, I don’t have the virus. I don’t know anyone who does. I have no immediate fear of contracting the disease, but rest assured that if I do, I will take all necessary steps to both fight it off of myself, and to prevent further spread.

But as we’ve all seen this week, this pandemic has had sweeping consequences to our daily lives. I’m working two jobs right now. The part-time job has cancelled all of my shifts for the remainder of the month (sports editing – there are no sports right now) but I will at least get paid for this weekend, and the full-time one (game show) has decided that we’re going to work from home next week.

This should free up a lot more time to watch movies. However, opportunity has actually dropped off as well. Many movie theatres, including AMC, have decided to remain open, but they’ll be selling tickets at 50% capacity to facilitate our new favorite phrase, “social distancing.” Thankfully, I live in Los Angeles, so there are plenty of theatres to go around. If there’s something I want to see, I can probably make it happen. Though I will say I was slightly put off by the message I received about AMC’s new cleaning policies promising a thorough cleaning of the auditorium after each show. YOU ASSHOLES WEREN’T DOING THAT ALREADY?!?!?!?!?! Tell Maria Menounos and Noovie’s endless slog of commercials to go fuck themselves and clean the place properly!

Anyway, the other side of that equation is that we now have less and less choice. An absolute slew of new movies slated for release this month and next have had their debuts pushed back, some for up to a year or more. Here’s the list I’ve seen so far of delayed films:

Peter Rabbit 2
No Time to Die
A Quiet Place Part II
Blue Story
Fast & Furious 9
New Mutants

Now I’ll admit, I haven’t been that excited for a number of these movies (particularly Mulan, which made the March edition of “TFINYW”), but it still speaks to the general fear of the various movie studios. As much as I hate it sometimes, film is a business, and right now, business is bad. With self-segregation happening in the public before state, local, and federal governments even step in to tell people to stay home, a lot of capital investment from the major studios is in serious jeopardy. I’ll admit that a good chunk of these movies (with more delays sure to come) are probably shitty, but they are profitable, and in many cases it’s the success of those bits of mass-produced garbage that opens up the coffers for more artistic and creative fare. I sure as hell am not going to watch Cars Go Vroom 9, but millions of others will, and it’s the profits from those drones that makes sure I can watch something utterly brilliant later in the year.

So yeah, the options are rapidly dwindling. Additional time off should afford me more opportunities to see stuff and cover it here, but the combination of intentionally-lowered ticket sales and a decrease in available films to potentially preserve profit margins (I am inclined to ask why they don’t just release the movies anyway, and either extend the theatrical run or just re-release them once the chaos dies down) makes for some fairly limited choices in what there actually is to watch.

So what to do? As far as I’m concerned, I’m still going to watch just about anything I can that looks appealing. I may even be inspired to grade on a more forgiving curve for the releases brave enough to still put themselves out there during this crisis. I also plan to invest more time in my Netflix and Amazon viewing, to try to make up the difference in the quantity of content. If I succeed, be prepared for more “DownStream” columns in the near future.

As for all of you, I implore you to live your lives as normally as you can, but within reason, and don’t do anything stupid. Don’t needlessly put yourself at risk of infection, and if you are sick, seek immediate medical attention and don’t spread to others. If you are chomping at the bit to read my reviews before making your movie-going decisions, well, a) I’m flattered, b) thanks for not being imaginary, and c) just make a note to yourself to watch something later on down the road if need be.

I’ll do what I can, because honestly, the next several weeks are probably going to be really boring with nothing to do, and movies are – to me, at least – one of the more perfect escapes from cabin fever and ennui. I’ll still do what I can, but if you don’t hear from me for a while, there’s likely a good reason for it. But I’ll keep watching for as long as I can.

Join the conversation in the comments below! How are you coping with the COVID crisis? Are you still able to see movies? Are you super bummed about any of the delayed releases? Let me know!

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