by Matthew Tran | October 5, 2020
As the summer of 2020 has come to an end, film enthusiasts reflect back on a time that was supposed to be a sensational movie season of highly anticipated theatrical releases. The upcoming James Bond movie, No Time to Die, is one of many summer blockbusters to have had its premiere shelved indefinitely amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Throughout the ongoing pandemic, streaming services enjoyed a surge in popularity because these platforms remained as a medium for all filmmakers to showcase their works.
The digital release of Aaron Schneider’s war film, Greyhound, represents one of the few approaches that the film industry has used to circumvent the social impact of the pandemic. Greyhound, which is exclusively available on Apple TV, received critical acclaim and record-breaking viewership on opening weekend for the streaming service—the film’s success is equivalent to a summer theatrical box office hit. The impeccable Tom Hanks stars in Greyhound as US Navy Commander Ernest Krause, whose involvement in the Battle of the Atlantic is chronicled throughout the movie. Digital releases, like Greyhound, transcend streaming services, and to this year’s international film festivals. The 2020 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) occurred on an online streaming platform, so a majority of the lineup had virtual premieres. Netflix worked in conjunction with TIFF, and the streaming service acquired the rights to many movies for digital release. One of those films is Kornél Mundruczó’s Pieces of a Woman, featuring Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf as a Boston couple who suffer the irrevocable effects of a tragic homebirth. Like Greyhound, the dramatic film received critical acclaim and prestigious accolades for its poignant performances and artistic technical elements. Pieces of a Woman is one of this year’s anticipated movies.
Despite these digital releases on streaming platforms, the 2020 summer movie season continued to be a showcase of theatrical releases. The latest Christopher Nolan film, Tenet, had a theatrical “tent-pole” release that was available only at first to residents in the United Kingdom and the United States. Despite COVID concerns, Nolan has advocated for the nation to assist in rejuvenating movie theatres that have suffered economic loss from the pandemic. Tenet has grossed over $251.1 million overall at the box office, becoming the fourth highest-grossing movie of 2020 and this summer’s most lucrative blockbuster. Starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in dual leading roles, the protagonists alter the space-time continuum to prevent the start of World War III. Although becoming a box office success, film critics lamented the film’s excessive hype and have considered it to be the worst of Nolan’s directing filmography. Nevertheless, the box office success of Tenet will lead the film industry to return to releasing films in traditional theatrical releases. In retrospect, the 2020 summer movie season was an experimental period for the film industry to handle such blockbuster releases.