Roger Wolfson Unveils Hollywood’s Secret Weapon Against COVID-19?
COVID-19 has ushered in one of the most volatile periods of the movie industry. Roger Wolfson – an American TV writer, and screenwriter known for Fairly Legal, Saving Grace, The Closer, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – says history will look back on March 4th, 2020, as the day a seismic shift struck Hollywood. It wouldn’t be referencing the great earthquake known as “the big one” that continues to loom over the great state of California. Instead, it refers to the day a string of blockbuster movies was scheduled for release starting with the 25th installment of the James Bond films, No Time To Die.
With cinemas closed, other films followed Bond’s lead, including Ghostbusters: Afterlife, A Quiet Place II, and the long-awaited, highly anticipated Top Gun: Maverick. Now, Hollywood studios are scrambling to reschedule blockbusters to recoup the enormous budgets invested in their production. If lockdown restrictions lift, autumn 2020 could be crammed with big-ticket movies competing for the attention of moviegoers. Like every other industry of American culture, the full return to business always seems just a day away. As companies hold their breath waiting for the threat of the coronavirus to dissipate, industries are gearing up for the greatest return to a booming economy since the end of World War II.
In Hollywood, the secret weapon is simply the publics’ massive desire for more programming. Demand has never been higher, and it seems to build each day. Riding that demand gives Hollywood power and initiative to keep finding creative ways to shoot and distribute content safely until production can return to pre-COVID levels.
Data has driven the decision-making process in Hollywood since its inception. In 1911, the Nestor Film Company relocated from New Jersey to Los Angeles based on a report that better weather and more days of sunshine would make for a more profitable studio. Well, the rest is film history. Analytics could be the ace up the sleeve in Hollywood, and companies like Gower Street Analytics could help studios find the best dates for upcoming studio releases. However, it’s uncertain how algorithms and machine learning systems can adapt to the effects of a global health crisis.
As for analytics of today, Wolfson says they can be overrated. Netflix offered a prize for an algorithm that would allow them to understand the preferences of its customers better. But even though its results improved by ten percent, Netflix ended up ignoring the algorithm. There are now 33 million different versions of Netflix. The company individualizes itself to meet the customer at home, to fulfill their desires, and it’s less about developing programming for customers as it is shaping Netflix for customers.
With the help of Gower Street Analytics, studios are paying close attention to both the AI recommendations and the course the virus is taking. Studying both will offer the right reaction. Until then, it’s not through analytics that studios will re-discover their audience, but rather, they need better ways of reaching customers wherever they can safely be entertained. Until then, it’s a waiting game for studios with films already in the can, and audiences are most certainly ready to enjoy them on the famed silver screen.