The world has undergone a massive shift due to the coronavirus pandemic. Movies have been delayed, concerts have come to a halt, and staying in has become the norm. The most surprising way the virus has impacted entertainment, however, is how entertainment itself has changed thanks to social media. It isn’t a new thing to live-tweet, in fact, networks have long used it as a way to interact with fans of series like The Walking Dead and Orphan Black. However, with Hollywood hitting the pause button across the board, live-tweeting has become more than a way to tweet out reactions to an episode of television. Now, it has become a way to entertain ourselves while in quarantine.
Recently, directors and studios have opted to use live-tweeting — and Instagram’s Live story feature — to connect with fans of popular films. The likes of Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange), James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and David F. Sandberg (Shazam!) have used Twitter to join fans in re-watching their films, both tweeting out facts throughout and answering fan questions occasionally. Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) has also used Instagram to chat with members of the cast as they watched the film, with the director revealing Marvel Studios was working to set up as many live-tweeting sessions as possible. So, why has live-tweeting become so popular in quarantine? Well, because it allows fans to connect, crafting a community of people online that enjoy the same things and are all in the same predicament.
With going to the movies currently not an option, fans and creators are instead choosing to connect with others over a shared interest. Sure, these are films and shows most have seen, however, that doesn’t take away from the excitement provided by live-tweeting. It’s a different way to view a project, joining in with strangers on the internet to discuss your favorite parts and recalling what it felt like upon your first watch. More importantly, though, joining others to live-tweet something provides a sense of escapism at a time most need it. Stay at home orders are still in effect for most of the world, but the internet still allows us to connect with the outside world. And while some areas may be relaxing with stay at home orders, there’s no denying live-tweeting has left an impact already on the world moving forward.
Last month saw Hollywood close shop, leaving most productions in a questionable state. Television series were left to finish seasons earlier than expected, unable to complete production on the remaining episodes. Films were forced to send crews home resulting in most major blockbusters being delayed by several months. And, while it’s been nearly a month, next to nothing has changed. More films have been pushed back, while the release dates for others like Wonder Woman 1984 and Tenet grow more doubtful. It has put Hollywood in a weird predicament, as 2020 will forgo a blockbuster summer with the box office expected to suffer a massive decline from this time last year. This has resulted in studios releasing select titles direct to video-on-demand, allowing fans to watch movies like The Invisible Man and Trolls: World Tour from home — a move that has paid off for the latter film.
So, what does this mean for Hollywood going forward? The way we consume entertainment may change. Studios have come to understand that video-on-demand is a valuable option for smaller films, especially those that may get lost in the shuffle at the ever-crowded box office. And live-tweeting these films could help to build some buzz that they may not have otherwise had. It could also result in more studios organizing live-tweet sessions for both new and older releases. As seen with the live-tweet sessions for films like Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy, and even Thor: Ragnarok, these events managed to keep fans talking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, despite having gone the year without a single release from Marvel Studios as Black Widow has since been pushed to November.
Ultimately, while the world will recover from the coronavirus at some point, it seems doubtful live-tweeting will go away. And Hollywood would be smart to embrace it going forward.
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As Hollywood halts production, fans have found a way to create a sense of community online through live-tweeting.