Thursday, May 30, 2024

Could COVID-19 Cancel Cannes? Will Movie Companies Impose Travel Restrictions? Is this the Real China Syndrome?


All of a sudden things are getting way too real.

Dozens of companies are imposing travel restrictions on their employees. For example, as South by Southwest is seeing exits from Apple, Netflix, Amazon and so on for its movie week, the music week is facing trouble, too. Most record and music companies are clamping down, telling employees they can’t go anyway for the time being. Warner, Universal, Sony, BMG, and Concord are among those who’ve cancelled all travel.

The result is that SXSW is facing some real plot twists right now. Will there be a diminished festival? Will they decide to cancel? And can they cancel?

Same for the Cannes Film Festival. Even though I’m hearing that all systems are go, the Festival begins on Tuesday May 12th. That’s 8 weeks away. France has over 200 reported cases of COVID 19. It’s not the same as Italy, but they’re the next door neighbor. What might that mean for the Croissette?

One observer remarked today, that it’s not just the executives and filmmakers, but what about talent? Will actors want to or be able to fly and travel as virus panic lurks everywhere?

There’s not just Cannes and SXSW, but the Tribeca Film Festival right here in New York. That comes up two weeks sooner than Cannes. New York has its own corona virus patients, not to mention folks getting sick watching the Wall Street ticker tape go up and down.

On top of fears about large public gatherings, Wednesday brought the postponement of the James Bond movie, ironically titledĀ  “No Time to Die,” from April to November. The reasoning is that many foreign markets are currently infected, especially China. If the Chinese can’t get out to movie theaters, will other studios follow suit and wait til this all passes? One instance could be “Fast and Furious 9.” The “FF” franchise makes hundreds of millions of dollars in China. The new movie appears on May 22nd. Now that MGM has paved the way, will Universal follow suit? And Disney, with “Mulan”?

For Paramount’s sake, the virus had better end soon. They have everything riding on “Top Gun: Maverick” this summer. June 24th is still far enough away. Let’s hope for a quick vaccine before then.

Stay tuned…

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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