Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 7

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 7 of the Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

As much as I want to continue to create informative content, I’m getting to the point where this series has become an annoyance. But I continue to do it anyway because historians can look back on this and remember it as a dire time for the film industry, which it really is. And those reviews I’ve been saving for months cannot go to waste. So Scene Before is STILL your place for the apocalypse! But who knows how much longer this will last? If I have to do more than twelve or thirteen, I might shove an aluminum soda can down my throat. In other news, I still know how to put on pants, I have not been going outside, and if I’m not back in the cinema by the end of July, I am going to throw all my DVDs and Blu-rays out the window like I’m a stubborn child!

And since we are still on a downward spiral, let’s get to the news of the world!

Starting in New York, we have news regarding what could be the United States’ most famous public transportation system, the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority). Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York state, made a major change to the system. The MTA is known for having a 24/7 schedule, so they never stop running. However, under Cuomo’s order, the system will be shutting down from 1 AM to 5 AM. This is likely a financially responsible decision, as nightlife in New York is nonexistent at this point. Plus, ridership is down 90% as far as the system goes. With less money, there’s more of a willingness to engage in the system’s preservation. This is also part of an effort to properly disinfect MTA property and machines, making a safer and cleaner ride for customers.

While some states are going to have to wait a bit longer to reopen, some like Georgia and Texas have begun easing on restrictions. Another state that has announced some easing on restrictions is the New England state of New Hampshire. The state plans to partially reopen starting May 11th. Certain pieces of economic industry including golf courses, campgrounds, and hair salons are permitted to reopen. Outdoor dining is also permitted to take place. Strict guidelines are still in place however as there is still a tendency to keep people 6 feet apart. New Hampshire currently has over twenty-five hundred confirmed COVID-19 cases so far. That is more than neighboring states Maine and Vermont, but is significantly less than its other neighboring state, Massachusetts, which has over seventy thousand cases.

Let’s go over to the United Kingdom and talk about Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Previously diagnosed with COVID-19, Johnson spent time in intensive care and was monitored health-wise. As he gets back into his routine, he stated that doctors were ready to announce his death in an event that he refers to as a “death of Stalin’-type scenario.” Johnson told UK newspaper The Sun that he required “liters and liters of oxygen.” During hospitalization, the Prime Minister kept asking himself: “How am I going to get out of this?” In other news, Johnson and his wife recently named their newborn son Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson. The “Nicholas” in this full name is chosen in honor of a doctor who helped aid Johnson.

Before we dive into our main topics, here’s a conglomerate of news that I ought to share because it can be packaged into a little box. While most theaters in the United States seem to have a plan on opening back up in the summer, because nothing’s out until then, some theaters are already opening their doors. For example, in Rhode Island, the Rustic Tri-View Drive-In, located in North Smithfield, is now part of the state’s reopen plan according to Governor Gina Raimondo. As for non-drive ins, Texas has three Santikos theaters reopening with a $5 ticket deal. For the record, this is a third of the company’s locations. Honestly, while it is good news for business that these theaters are reopening, I think it is also good news for health that they are taking it slow. The major chains like AMC and Cinemark still plan on a July reopening, which I think is fine, because it builds up anticipation and there’s nothing really new playing until then. Outside the U.S., Norway is reopening its theaters starting May 7th, capping the limit at 50 people per screening. The movie theater to me is a place beyond the imagination. It’s also a place where I occasionally get to see masterpieces. These masterpieces often get awards, such as Oscars. Speaking of the Oscars, let’s talk about them!

THE ACADEMY CHANGES RULES FOR THE 93RD ANNUAL OSCARS

One of my favorite days of the year is Oscar Sunday. When this crisis first started, I was a little worried that would not even be able to see an Academy Awards show next year, much less get more movies that could potentially be nominated. After all, when you are a studio or crew and cannot come out with your movie, it’s kind of a struggle. However, The Academy may have something planned next year. One indicator of this is them announcing changes to their rules and layout. Most notably, the Academy is putting its traditional rule of its nominees needing to have a theatrical release on hold. Specifically, the rule that a movie must play in Los Angeles county cinemas for at least a week with daily screenings taking place at least thrice. So if you play your movie in cities such as Los Angeles, Burbank, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Glendale, Pasadena, Culver City, or anywhere else in Los Angeles county that may have a movie theater under certain requirements, it could potentially be nominated for an Academy Award. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Academy is making an exception for this year. The following quote is taken from The Academy’s website, oscars.org.

“Until further notice, and for the 93rd Awards year only, films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming or VOD service may qualify in the Best Picture, general entry and specialty categories for the 93rd Academy Awards under these provisions:

  1. The film must be made available on the secure Academy Screening Room member-only streaming site within 60 days of the film’s streaming or VOD release;
  2. The film must meet all other eligibility requirements.”

So this means that films like “Trolls: World Tour,” “Scoob!,” and “The King of Staten Island,” which are either already On Demand or will be dropping towards On Demand soon, are considered eligible for the Academy Awards. Films that barely even got a theatrical release like “Bloodshot” or “The Hunt” also qualify. I’m willing to imagine to some extent that this *may* count a film such as “The Lovebirds,” which was going to theatrically release this year and make a debut at South by Southwest. Although the festival was canceled and Paramount is no longer putting the film out in cinemas. But unlike films such as “Trolls: World Tour,” which is available on platforms including Prime Video, Google Play, Vudu, FandangoNOW, AMC Theatres On-Demand, iTunes, and cable outlets such as Xfinity and Fios, “The Lovebirds” is going straight to Netflix. Given how Netflix has made a major presence at the Academy Awards in past years, films like “The Lovebirds” could be considered eligible, but is the Academy only considering certain platforms? Are exclusive platform deals going to tie in somehow? What about “Artemis Fowl” on Disney+? That movie was supposed to come out this month, but unfortunately that’s not happening.

Also keeping fine print in mind, these rules pertain to films that were once planning on theatrically releasing. So films like Netflix’s “Extraction,” which was intended for a streaming platform, or HBO’s “Bad Education,” which went straight to television, will not qualify. This policy is also not permanent, as the Academy intends to make this only apply for this year’s ceremony, and anticipates an end date in the future when there is a sense of normalcy, not to mention when theaters re-open. However, the Academy is also planning on expanding qualifying theaters to U.S. areas including New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami. As one who lives fairly close to Boston, I am disappointed, but we can’t have everything, even if sports prove otherwise. By the way, I hate football. I said it.

PHYSICAL MEDIA (and other electronic) SALES GO UP

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Now I imagine some people will flat out not care about this, but to me, physical media is the best way to watch a movie at home. Because when you buy a movie on Prime Video for example, you don’t own it. Yes, you possess the film digitally, but if the service goes down, crashes, or the company behind it closes its doors forever, you’ll probably never be able to watch it again. With physical media, it is all up to you. Now it is not a surprise that we have had more time on our hands to go on Netflix and watch “Extraction,” to flock over to Disney+ and watch “Star Wars,” to jump on over to FandangoNOW and give “Trolls: World Tour” a rent. But what KIND OF surprises me, and I say kind of, is how much of a presence physical media has in this pandemic. According to recent statistics, DVD and Blu-ray players went up 27% during the pandemic. Keep in mind, this is a market that Samsung recently abandoned.

Another thing to keep in mind is that DVD and Blu-ray players, which went up by 27% is not the only winner here, in fact, the increase is not as big as other categories such as TV mounts (41%), printers (61%), and streaming players (67%). So rather than just being a great boost for physical media, it is also a great boost for tech. TVs have been doing well, and so have computers. As for where the actual total of sales for DVD and Blu-ray DISCS stand, that’s another question. Although, based on this quote from NPD’s Tom Baker, that type of electronic may be doing just fine.

“Sales are up as consumers stay at home and look for multiple forms of entertainment. These include DVDs and Blu-ray discs to entertain children while their parents are working, backup access devices if Internet access is challenged by streaming, or simply the consumers’ realization that they may need a physical disc player as an alternative to streaming and either they didn’t already have one or the one they do have needs an upgrade.”

Honestly, in a time like this, I think some people are going to want physical media. Sure, it involves getting up and putting in a disc, but one of the reasons why I am such an advocate for it is the technical side of it. Outlets like YouTube and Netflix have lowered the default quality of content to standard definition. With Blu-ray, the default quality is 1080p, or if you have a smaller setup, it’ll work in 720p. Yes, standard definition is the quality of DVD, which is 480p, but again, I’ll bring up the fact that you have control over your content. Netflix, or more specifically, Warnermedia, is not going to snatch “Friends” away whenever the year ends like they did months ago. If you don’t want it, just sell it and get some money back! Plus, you get all the bonus features which can help you pass the time. I just got the “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” 4K Blu-ray last month, I still need to watch the bonus content! So I still have something to do! Also, what if the Internet goes down? You don’t need any Internet to watch a DVD! If I had to come up with any downsides, maybe it involves a little more activity, but since we refuse to go outside, it could be worth taking a couple steps to the collection and popping a disc in. Or, since places like Walmart sells them, there’s always a chance, given how grocery stores are becoming petri dishes right now, that other people touched the DVDs or Blu-rays and spread their germs, which may not be the most pleasant happening for a time like this. But of course, worst case scenario, you can always order these things online. Although I can also imagine that some people are buying these devices because they have smart capabilities as well, allowing them to contain apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Prime Video.

NO MORE KEANU DAY, BUT HERE’S MORE DELAYS!

One of the actors who arguably was the “winner” of 2019 is Keanu Reeves. His year in acting brought him success through films like “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” and “Toy Story 4.” He did films like “Replicas,” which honestly sucked, but he also became a heavy hitting piece of promotion for the upcoming game “Cyberpunk 2077,” by making a surprise appearance at E3 last year. And honestly, this might have spawned my favorite slice of all the content that went viral on the Internet last year.

In fact this year, the Keanussance is likely going to continue. After all, he is making an appearance in the third “SpongeBob SquarePants” movie in a minor role. The movie by the way for those who don’t know is titled “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.” Speaking of known properties, Reeves is also going to be reuniting with Alex Winter to star in “Bill & Ted Face the Music.” Although, if you are a fan of one of Keanu Reeves’ most popular franchises, specifically “John Wick,” prepare to be disappointed. “John Wick: Chapter 4,” once scheduled to come out May 21st, 2021, will now be releasing May 27th, 2022, a full year later. Taking the spot of “John Wick” is the “Saw” reboot titled “Spiral,” which was supposed to be out May 15th of this year. Speaking of Lionsgate films, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” which is a sequel to 2017’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” will be hitting theaters August 20th, 2021, as opposed to its prior date of August 28th, 2020. An upcoming horror drama, “Antebellum,” is set to release August 21st, 2020, as opposed to its original date which has already passed, April 24th, 2020.

However, sticking with “John Wick: Chapter 4,” this delay is a particularly interesting one. Not just because it involves a meme-worthy actor and a hit action franchise, but this film was originally supposed to come out the same day as another Keanu Reeves movie. And it’s not some indie film made by a studio like A24 or Neon. It’s not, THANKFULLY, a sequel to “Replicas,” a film Reeves starred in that turned out to be one of the worst films of 2019. It’s “The Matrix 4.” Now if you asked me five years ago about the possibility of a “Matrix 4,” I’d probably toss the idea behind my head. There didn’t seem to be much place else that the story could go. But hey, everything’s getting a reboot and a remake now, so why not “The Matrix?” I honestly don’t know what to expect from it, but the fact that this is a reboot and not a remake pleases me. Nevertheless, both films prior to the delay of “John Wick: Chapter 4” were scheduled to come out May 21st, 2021. The Internet has often called this “Keanu Day.” I will say that the delay of “John Wick: Chapter 4” is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because it avoids having the crew rush on making the film, but it’s also unfortunate because as a Keanu Reeves follower, I figured it would be fun to go to the theater and do a Keanu Reeves double feature. However, if more good news needs to be said, I should also point out it’s perhaps likely that these films, which by the way, are from different companies, will be marketed to similar groups of people, and maybe both could lose their respective studios money as a result. Both films debuting on their own release dates could not only benefit Lionsgate, who is delaying “John Wick: Chapter 4,” but also Warner Bros., who is responsible for “Matrix 4.” Not everyone has the money and time to go see two seemingly similar movies. While “John Wick” fans may have to wait, this could give Lionsgate a greater chance of creating a “John Wick: Chapter 5,” because what if “John Wick: Chapter 4” doesn’t warrant a sequel after losing lots of money to “Matrix 4?” At least the studio has a “Hunger Games” prequel and “Knives Out 2” potentially coming soon so it’s not like they’ll spend years losing money from here on out.

AMC THEATRES AND REGAL ENTERTAINMENT GROUP BAN UNIVERSAL FILMS

Can I get some popcorn?! Because I’d say it’s time to enjoy the greatest battle in cinematic history, and it’s not even in a movie! Tonight’s fighters are… movie theaters and Universal Pictures! Now, “Trolls: World Tour” is a one of a kind movie, mainly because Universal decided that it should be released directly onto VOD. Universal bragged about the film’s progress so far to the point where they thought it would be a good idea to release more of their films On Demand while also putting them into theaters.

Now, I’m going to have to be very careful here, because several different outlets have reported similar sounding items that might contextualize something different.

The story here begins by bringing the mega-chain AMC Theatres into the mix. AMC Theatres saw Universal’s plan to simultaneously release movies theatrically and at home and responded by saying that they will not play any of Universal’s movies if that’s the case. While a source like The Hollywood Reporter did a story on this and cited from AMC CEO Adam Aron that the company will no longer play any of Universal’s films in its theaters worldwide, one quote from Deadline’s article suggests, also from Adam Aron, that they will not do so “on these terms.” By that, it likely means that AMC will not release Universal’s films if they just follow a simultaneous home video rollout. Keep in mind, it is traditional for films to follow a strict theatrical window. While there have been cases of films like “Black Panther” that you can still see in some theaters while it becomes available at home, tradition has suggested that a movie released for theaters must be out for about ninty days before it comes home. Universal doing a release like this not only ignores the theatrical window, but it also makes the theater potentially lose money because people could just stay home and put the movie on their TV. In fact, movie theaters were against Universal since this pandemic started. While they did manage to have a rather solid idea of making “Trolls: World Tour” a straight to On Demand movie, other studios seemingly have concretely laid out their plans and avoided giving such a last minute notice like Universal appeared to. NATO (National Association of Theater Owners) head John Fithian was against this from day one.

“Only Universal, and only on ‘Trolls,’ did one studio skip the theatrical model and go straight to the home. Universal continues to advertise to consumers that ‘Trolls’ will be released simultaneously to theaters and the home on April 10. And they are lying to consumers. Universal knows that theaters will still be closed on April 10, so unlike every other distributor who must simply delay their releases in that time period, but still understand that theatrical release is essential to their business model, Universal on ‘Trolls’ didn’t make that decision. Exhibitors will not forget this.”

Fithian also shares his thoughts on the current matter of AMC abandoning Universal films with this quote…

“Universal does not have reason to use unusual circumstances in an unprecedented environment as a springboard to bypass true theatrical releases. Theaters provide a beloved immersive, shared experience that cannot be replicated — an experience that many of the VOD viewers of this film would have participated in had the world not been sequestered at home, desperate for something new to watch with their families. We are confident that when theaters reopen, studios will continue to benefit from the global theatrical box office, followed by traditional home release.”

Let me just say that if Universal is planning on releasing “F9” through VOD the same day as in theaters, that might be one of the worst decisions they’ve ever made. People go to those movies because they provide adrenaline rushes, the effect is not as great if watched on a TV, tablet, phone, or computer. This is why before this whole pandemic, I bought opening Thursday tickets. Luckily, I did get my money back. So if all Universal films are never coming to AMC again, it’s going to make it harder for me to review them as AMC locations are easy for me to access. The theater is a huge money-maker for Universal, to have hundreds of screens lost is not a great investment in the long run. People are inevitably going to get back into routines, and part of that routine is the movie theater. It might take awhile for some people, but if you’re someone like me who sees a difference in the experience from watching at home and in the theater, I’m going to choose the theater by a long mile. This is why I want to see “Tenet” in July. Heck, before this all happened, I probably had little to no intention of going to see the remake for “Mulan,” but I’ll show up because I want to support movie theaters.

But just you wait! There’s more! Universal, if you do nothing, cinema chains will double the offer! That’s two cinema chains not playing your movies, for a chance to lose more money! Cineworld, which currently owns the U.S. staple, Regal Entertainment Group, also said that they “will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows.” So, should Universal continue to release movies On Demand early, Regal, along with AMC, will not be playing those films in their venues. Alternate chains like Showcase Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse, and Arclight for example have not really said much about this matter. But remember, the theatrical window is a sacred bond of trust. If you’re putting a movie in theaters, chances are you have to follow it or face consequences.

Also, I wonder how much longer this will go on for, because guess what? If you go to Universal Studios Hollywood, you’ll notice on the CityWalk that there is a movie theater that currently goes by the name Universal Cinema. The theater has reserved seating, recliners, a Director’s Lounge, and an IMAX with Laser. By the way, that IMAX is also equipped with a 70mm projector, which if the theaters open back up in time for “Tenet,” will probably be used. Guess who owns that theater? AMC of all possible names! Who knows what is going to happen there?! As for Universal Orlando Resort, they’re safer in this circumstance as they currently have a Cinemark. They had an AMC at one point, but that has now closed. Gotta love drama.

NEW HOME VIDEO RELEASES

First off, it is Tuesday, May the 5th! Meaning it is the day after “Star Wars Day,” AKA May the 4th! For those who have not heard it already, May the 4th be with you and as for today, enjoy your Revenge of the Fifth! With that being said, there’s some new “Star Wars” content on Disney+, including a documentary on “The Mandalorian,” the series finale of “The Clone Wars,” and since we talk about movies on here, one of the new additions is “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the conclusion to “The Skywalker Saga.” As of now, the full “Skywalker Saga” is available on the service. The only theatrically released “Star Wars” movie not available on Disney+ at the moment is “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” However, the movie is currently on Netflix. If you are wondering when “Solo” will be coming to Disney+, it will be available starting July 9th, 2020. As for what’s coming On Demand, one example is “The Lodge,” which is about a soon-to-be-stepmom who is staying with her finace’s children at a holiday village, where strange events begin to occur. The film is available today, May 5th, on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital. Another film getting such a release on May 5th is “Arkansas” starring Liam Hemsworth and Vince Vaughn. It is the directorial debut of Clark Duke and was supposed to be shown at this year’s South by Southwest Festival. The film is a thriller about two men who live under the orders of a kingpin whom they’ve never met. Unfortunately, a deal goes wrong, meaning they could end up facing harsh consequences. “Arkansas” was supposed to theatrically release on May 1st, the same day that “Black Widow” would have hit theaters had it not been delayed. However, it is now available physically and digitally starting today, May 5th. One more film to avoid skipping over is “I Still Believe,” which is now out on DVD and Blu-ray as of today. The film is based on the true story and journey of Christian music star Jeremy Camp.

Thanks for reading the seventh part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” Happy Revenge of the Fifth, hope all the “Star Wars” fanatics in the world are happily going about their lives and not getting into fights in comments sections, because that’s impossible, right? Also, Happy Cinco de Mayo, on a Taco Tuesday coincidentally! Two days that go together quite well! Also, if you want remind yourself of a simpler time when movie theaters were open, be sure to check out my latest YouTube video where I document my experience of going to see “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” on opening night. Disney has already put copyright claims on it, but I really don’t care as I enjoyed making the video. Also, if you like the video, leave a like, if you want to subscribe, go ahead! Speaking of leaving likes, be sure to check out my Facebook page and immerse yourself to posts much shorter than these while also getting the latest updates from Scene Before! Since we’re still on the topic of likes, be sure to like this post if you’re enjoying the content, and as we’re continuing promotion, why not give this blog a follow either with a WordPress account or your email? I want to know, what is the biggest piece of movie news for you in regards to the COVID-19 crisis this past week or so? Did I miss anything? Also, how did you celebrate “Star Wars” day? Me personally, I started on May 3rd! TBS had a marathon and I watched for hours! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 1

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Last week on Scene Before I addressed what my blog would be doing in regards to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. As you may know, I type and upload all my posts via WordPress.com, and as long as that does not go down, I should be fine. I can also easily do some of the work I do for this blog at home, but given how this virus has taken a toll on the film industry as a whole, it has prevented me from doing my main goal for Scene Before, which is to go out and see new releases in the theater. Granted, I was able to go see “Bloodshot” during the previous week at an AMC Prime, so I did get my precious theater time before everything shut down. So I will have reviews coming. That’s a guarantee.

But a couple things are for sure. 1. I am not a doctor, so if I were to tell you that this virus were to go away by tomorrow, I’d probably be lying to you. 2. Even if I was a doctor, I would most certainly be aware that there is a lot of confusion going on when it comes to COVID-19, so I might not be able to pinpoint an exact moment when society would return to normal. It could be April, May, June, July, August, who knows? If I had to guess, we would still have SOME restrictions in April, but we would continue to grow from that point. That depends on how seriously precautions are taken. Will people go out? Will people stay home? How many essential or non-essential activities will we engage in? Will testing improve? These are questions that need answering, and they will likely be answered overtime. But it doesn’t look like this virus will be eradicated as long as things like this continue happening.

And I will admit, I did travel recently. In fact I went to LA and Fort Lauderdale, but this was sort of in the unraveling of the “social distancing” trend. I stayed in LA for the three nights I had scheduled, but my mother and I went home two days early from Fort Lauderdale. We may have realized that we made the right decision.

But I don’t want to make this post, or this series, depending on how often I update this, all about me. Instead, I want to focus towards the movie industry and how it is being impacted by the coronavirus. Because right now, it’s not lookin’ pretty, like at all. Sorry, but it’s true. Here are some reasons why.

THEATERS SHUT DOWN:

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I already mentioned this briefly, but theaters pretty much everywhere have either been forced to shut down or voluntarily shut down. There are a few that are still open, most notably drive-ins, but the traditional movie theater just about as a whole, has closed doors until further notice. Sadly, not only does this include big chains like AMC Theatres, Regal Entertainment Group, and Cinemark, but also some of my favorite local cinemas who do not belong to a bigger name, and some need help now more than ever. One of the first notable closings I bat an eye towards was for the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA.

Although I will respect some people in the industry such as acclaimed director Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) for making a call to action when it comes to these smaller cinemas.

I will admit, at this time, I am trying to save my money in case this apocalypse becomes bigger than I can ever imagine, but this is an informative tweet and it has had me considering pulling some support towards theaters like the Coolidge. It’s a lovely theater that plays many films that are not traditionally found in typical venues, and they even have special events where industry professionals make appearances. Remember how I did my review for “Emma?” Well, when I saw the movie at the Coolidge, the film’s star Anya Taylor-Joy and its director, Autumn de Wilde, appeared together to talk about the film. I am still considering becoming a member in support of the theater. Maybe I’d make more visits to it as a result.

But speaking of which, I do feel bad not just for the establishments themselves, but their employees who work hard to keep the theaters running. Surprisingly, despite going to the theater a lot, I have never really developed a complex relationship with the employees who work there, but at the same time, I don’t want keep them from doing their job. With the recent closings of theaters, this automatically means that thousands of people cannot work. I could end this statement here and call it a day. However I have been reading from various users online who worked at outlets like Regal, and they said that they have been fired along with the rest of their staff. In fact, check out this little exchange I had on Twitter just the other day…

I looked into this and I saw a bunch of tweets from people who worked at Regal, reporting how poorly this situation has been handled by the company. In fact, as I right this, Cinemark employees seem to be going through the same deal.

Now I have heard about Regal’s situation much earlier, but I have not seen much news about this from major outlets. So I don’t know if I am planning to take this matter on any further, but I do want to know something. If anybody from a major movie theater chain like Cinemark or Regal was terminated, thought they were terminated and then corrected to not be terminated, or something else along those lines, feel free to send me an email, just go to my contact page and leave your information there. I also have a public Twitter, so if you want to DM me @JackDrees, feel free to let me know about what happened that either got you fired or even if you weren’t fired. How did your movie theater handle this matter? Were they justified? Unjustified? Let me know! I don’t know how far I might take this matter, but maybe, JUST MAYBE, I’ll address all of this in a future post.

NEW RELEASES COME HOME

I feel rather lucky that I got to see a number of 2020’s films prior to the big hit of COVID-19 here in the U.S.. Films like “Sonic the Hedgehog,” “Onward,” and “Emma.” However, these movies unfortunately all face a common problem. An extended chance at a theatrical experience will be missed for all of them. After all, since theaters are shut down, how is everyone going to see those movies? ON DEMAND TO THE RESCUE! Even though some films have recently released, studios happened to be kind enough to put their new releases onto VOD as soon as possible. Sony has done this with “Bloodshot,” Paramount has done this “Sonic the Hedgehog,” STX is going to do this with “The Gentlemen,” Warnermedia is doing this with “The Way Back,” and Comcast’s studios is not only putting out films like “Emma” or “The Hunt” on VOD, they are separating themselves from various studios such as Disney, who happen to be delaying all their future films until further notice, and putting DreamWorks’ newest film, “Trolls: World Tour” onto VOD the same day it is scheduled to release in theaters. Now I am willing to assume that some theaters, not all, but some, will be open around the time “Trolls: World Tour” comes out, specifically April 10th. So with that in mind, families can still go to the theater and maybe watch the movie together. But this also brings a unique opportunity for home viewing. And it’s not like it’s a new thing, because there have been movies that released through VOD around the same time that it has been put out in the theater, but given the type of movie that “Trolls: World Tour” happens to be, it’s somewhat unprecedented. Man, I hate that word! For the record, the movies that have recently been put on VOD early are only available to rent right now, specifically for $19.99. This is slightly less than one would pay for an individual IMAX ticket at some multiplexes during an evening or night show. When it comes to a film like “Onward” or “Trolls: World Tour,” $19.99 is not the worst of prices because if you are stuck with a family, it will make for time well spent compared to taking a group of four to the theater in the evening and spending $50 on tickets alone.

Then you add popcorn and candy into the mix. That crap full of calories ain’t cheap!

If you’re watching one of these new movies by yourself, it could be worth the price, but keep in mind that there happens to be little to no alternative right now. Let’s face it, ANY movie is better in the theater. But if you have a solid sound or screen setup, take advantage of it! Or if you want to brag to some socially distant friends that you saw the latest big film on TV as early as possible, give some of these films a rent! In fact, I have yet to see “The Hunt” in theaters, so maybe I’ll take advantage of the current situation and either rent it through services like FandangoNOW or Prime Video. In fact, if you have Prime Video, they just added a new section labeled “Prime Video Cinema” just in case you need help finding movies like these.

One of the bigger surprises to me when it comes to all of this is how much Disney seems to be getting involved. Granted, it doesn’t surprise me a ton that “Onward” did not take long to find a new home on VOD, but what did surprise me is how early it was declared that “Onward” would be on Disney’s new streaming service “Disney+.” Seriously! Not only is “Onward” now available digitally through various services, but it is coming to Disney+ on April 3rd. In fact, if you have young girls, chances are that their lives are about to be significantly better, while you are probably going to suffer through a tremendous meltdown, because Disney+ currently has “Frozen 2,” which I would have expected to appear on the service eventually, but due to its recent digital and physical media release, it sort of comes as a shock.

But one question still stands. How long will this crisis go on? Because if this goes on past August, then some trouble could be afoot. “Wonder Woman 1984” is coming out, and I have recently heard reports that the film could go straight to streaming. If it was still coming out in June and the crisis was still happening, it’s bad enough, but this film needs to see the light of day! There is a case to make for this streaming scenario, maybe the crisis will get out of hand, people will still spread the disease, and theaters need to keep their doors closed as a result. But my gosh, if my only option in August to watch “Wonder Woman 1984” is through streaming services, I will set my house on fire. Will I still watch “Wonder Woman 1984?” Probably. The review for it will probably be necessary given how comic book movies continue to be the big thing. If anything, I am optimistic enough that this abnormality could pass before “Wonder Woman 1984” comes out, but my question is, what will the people behind the movie do? I mean, think about it! There’s a lot of money to be made on this movie! It’s highly anticipated, the first one was Warner Brothers’ highest-grossing film of 2017, and speaking of the first movie, it pretty much set the basis of how you make a superhero film with a female lead. Sorry, “Captain Marvel!” “Wonder Woman” did this idea ten times better! I think if they stick with the rental route, the theatricality factor of the film will be lost and therefore make less money as a result. “Wonder Woman 1984” was also shot using IMAX cameras, so if anything, I am HOPING that the movie gets shown in IMAX theaters at least once! I think Disney and Marvel kind of made a solid call by delaying “Black Widow.” While it does disappoint me that we are not getting to see it as soon as possible, I am still looking forward to the theatrical experience to be had by all. Now as I write this, Warner Brothers has stated that they are going to plan on putting “Wonder Woman 1984” in theaters instead of streaming, but for all I know, maybe people are clumsy enough to prevent that from happening. Granted, it was already delayed once from June to August, but should this go on any longer than expected, I have every right to worry. Oh, and if they EVEN THINK about delaying “Tenet,” I will most likely be quitting movie watching for the rest of my life! I NEED THIS MOVIE NOW! IN IMAX 70MM FILM!

DRIVE-INS THRIVE

This crisis has brought a stunning reversal that maybe made me a little more surprised than I should have been. When one door closes, another one opens. In this case, the door slammed on movie theaters, but the doors seemed to have unlocked for drive-ins, and this kind of shocks me given how much we seem to forget about the drive-in based on everything else in our culture. Yes, every now and then, a conversation will come up and the drive-in will be part of the discussion and there will be talk about how cool it is, but not everybody goes. In fact, I have never been to a drive-in myself. Even the closest one to my house is a bit of a hike. But according to Deadline Hollywood, many of the more prominent exhibitors to continue operations in states like Arizona over the past weekend happened to be drive-ins. According to the article…

“Among Onward‘s top 30-grossing theaters this past weekend, drive-ins repped 25 of them. For Invisible Man, 20 out of its 30 theaters earned money from drive-ins, Call of the Wild‘s saw 15 out of 30, and Bloodshot 14 out of 30. All of Onward‘s top 20 theaters were drive-ins, led by the Glendale 9 in Glendale, AZ with close to $10K. Invisible Man‘s top 17 theaters were drive-ins, led by the Starlight 4 in Atlanta, GA with $11K. Bloodshot‘s top venue was also Atlanta’s Starlight with just over $7K, while Call of the Wild‘s top theater was the Swan drive-in Blue Ridge, GA with just under $5K.”

TO READ FULL DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD ARTICLE, CLICK HERE

And should movie theaters remain closed for a few more weeks, maybe six, this will bring a greater opportunity for those who run drive-ins or have a drive-in near where they live. I live in New England, where the weather is not the most pleasant as we speak, but more drive-ins will open as we get closer to eventual warmer weather. This can be a great alternative to the movie theater, while allowing customers to practice social distancing in the surroundings of their vehicle. And if you have a large family, it could make for a fun, not to mention relatively inexpensive night out, at least compared to a traditional theater where you pay per ticket as opposed to per car. Should this crisis eventually develop a fear of socializing or being close to others, maybe drive-ins could get an uptick overtime. This does not mean the traditional theaters could suffer, because they often have the advantage of not having to worry about weather, and a proper sound system.

BIG QUESTION: Are movie theaters in deep trouble?

There has been a conversation going on for years as for when movie theaters could potentially shut down for good. Sort of in the same way that some would wonder when physical media could go away. I already mentioned that movie theaters are closing their doors for the time being, yada yada yada, but I must not forget one more important notion. This crisis could be costly. A lot of studios are thinking in a certain direction, and it has somewhat paid off. They are losing money as a result. But what else are they gonna do? Release big movies to limited theaters? Have these movies be left in the dust? But if this crisis never happened, Paramount could have hit it big with “A Quiet Place Part II.” Disney could have another live-action remake monster hit with “Mulan,” and if Universal avoided postponing “F9,” their upcoming “Fast & Furious” flick, I would probably be willing to bet that the movie would be this year’s most precious piece of box office gold. If movie theaters open back up any time soon, there’s a solid chance that a lot of titles could be playing, but they wouldn’t make much money. Would we be going back to seeing “Bloodshot” again? For all I know, they could open back up in time for “Wonder Woman 1984” to have a solid start to the industry’s revitalization. Or, what if they simply waited until the middle of July to open “Tenet?” I doubt that the movie theater industry would intend on doing this, but “Tenet” is a movie that is being labeled as an “event.” Why not bring back the moviegoing experience with an event? I would immediately flock to it! Especially in this case if they have a nearby IMAX playing this movie in 70mm film. Granted… I also desperately want to see “Top Gun: Maverick” so… I will simply be looking forward to that. I think the business given to movie theaters once this is all ends is going to mostly depend on the films being presented. How many big movies are being pushed back towards eternity? What movies will remain once the movie theaters open? But if people don’t show up, and if the corporations don’t have enough money to pay workers or keep lights on, then there’s where trouble swoops in.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is continuously reminding me of the beginning of “Avengers: Endgame.” It almost feels like five years have passed in just a matter of a few days and everything is desolate, and completely abandoned. How much longer will this go on? It’s hard to tell. Countries like South Korea seemed to curb the spread, but Italy seems to be spiraling out of control. One light at the end of the tunnel is that China has recently reopened hundreds of movie theaters. Granted, it’s probably going to take some time for its people to return to the dark rooms of movie magic, but it at least provides some positivity to this negative crisis.

If you have a proper account setup, be sure to like this post if you want to see more of this series, specifically titled “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes,” that I am setting up for the time being. Also, be sure to follow Scene Before if you want to stay up to date on the latest posts provided by the Movie Reviewing Moron. To follow Scene Before, use an email or WordPress account! It really helps me out! Also, speaking of helping me out, be sure to like my Facebook page, because let’s face it. Life is boring right now! Scrolling through sites that are full of cat videos, epic fails, or jokes about toilet paper is exactly what we need! Get crackin’!

Thanks for reading this post! Again, if you want to see more of this content, follow the instructions above, and remember to stay safe and we’ll get through this together! In other words, I’m trying to come up with phrases that do not rhyme with “We’re all gonna die” so I can stay sane. Let’s just elbow bump our way through this crisis and let it pass! We’ve got this! In other news, my next review is going to be for Pixar’s “Onward” which is now available on digital! I hope to have the review up by the end of the week, and if not, maybe it’ll be up at the end of the month. Who knows? Be sure to follow Scene Before, like this post, and stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, how are you currently going about the COVID-19 crisis? Is it no big deal to you right now? Is it not in your county, your state, your province, your country? Or is it affecting you in some way? Or, what was the last movie you saw in the theater? ALSO, when was the last time you went to a drive-in? What did you see? How was your experience? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

How Scene Before Will Seemingly Adapt to Coronavirus Changes…

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! This is… Abnormal to say the least. Like, I never thought being an introvert would become as commonplace as it has today. I have never felt more numb than I do right now. Basically, the whole purpose behind Scene Before, which is to review the newest films for YOU, my viewers, has been diminished because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, or at least I think that will be the case. After all, I live in Massachusetts and this just came in earlier this week.

“Gatherings of over 25 people will be prohibited, including all community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions and any similar event or activity that brings together 25 or more people in a single room or a single space at the same time. This includes venues like fitness centers, private clubs and theaters.”

Now does this mean I can no longer go to the movie theater in my state? That is most likely. After all, I never recall seeing many auditoriums that can hold less than 25 people. I recall certain popular chains stating they will permit 250 people per auditorium or a 50% reduction per auditorium, but I think that is going to be voided now. I mean, if theaters stay open, I’ll consider going, but I also don’t want to become the “crazy movie freak of Massachusetts.” In fact, a lot of theaters around the country are already closed, because as I write this, Regal Entertainment Group, one of the largest North American chains, has shut down until further notice. In addition to that, AMC has done the same. So basically, the two big movie theater chains in my country are now avoiding service to moviegoing customers. Showcase Cinemas, another popular chain in the northeast shut down entirely. Nearby theaters catering to smaller and indie films like the Coolidge Corner Theatre and CinemaSalem have shut their doors until specific dates in April. Los Angeles has been ordered to shut down all of their theaters. LOS ANGELES! THE MOVIE CAPITAL OF THE UNIVERSE! The same goes with New York! Worst. Thing. Ever.

Speaking of tragic situations, I almost wonder if next year will have an Oscars ceremony. In fact, one of the major rules of the Academy Awards is that the movies participating for the award must have a 7 day theatrical release in Los Angeles. If they want this ceremony to fall through, they’ve GOT to make an exception for this year. Some theaters are still open, yes, but we are seeing a shift, at least for now, in increased home viewing. Basically, the whole world is going to continue watching Netflix and we all won’t be able to chill BECAUSE THIS IS THE ABSOLUTE WORST! I can’t chill! I can’t calm down! Who is writing our lives and why aren’t they fired?! Is it Stephen King? R.L. Stine? John Carpenter? Whoever the hell is writing this needs to be terminated immediately! Allow me to take their place and allow the entire universe to live happily ever after! Sometimes the predictable and happy ending is the best one!

I will say though, this does not mean I’ll STOP reviewing new releases. Because for all I know, there could be a Blu-ray, DVD, or digital release coming up for a movie previously shown in theaters that I missed. There’s not much from 2020 that is coming out that I have not seen or am interested in seeing, but one movie I missed, “Underwater,” is scheduled to release on DVD April 14th. I could probably go get it in person. After all, places like Target and Walmart are still likely to be open during these times (although worst case scenario I could buy it online), maybe I could buy it in a store if I feel the urge to.

Plus, one of the saving graces early on in this pandemic is Comcast, which I am utterly amazed by. A few years ago, I was talking s*it about their cable service. Having switched to Verizon, I felt instant relief. But recently, Comcast announced their commitment to providing free Internet to low-income customers for the next 30 days. I think that is a class act and a smart idea for these dark times. And given how people are less likely to head to the movie theater, Comcast distributors like Universal Pictures and Focus Features will be putting movies that are already out like “Emma” and “The Hunt” on VOD services as soon as possible for home viewers to enjoy without having to leave their couch. While this does discard the 90 day agreement where a cinema holds a movie for a period of time before it is officially allowed elsewhere, I think it is a smart decision. I don’t think it should be done for all movies, because there are a number of movies coming out that are absolutely enhanced through a communal experience that can be witnessed at a theater. While I am disappointed that “No Time to Die” got delayed, I am glad it is being shelved to November, when the world can HOPEFULLY unite as one community again. I was looking forward to “F9,” the upcoming “Fast & Furious” installment, but given the ongoing fears, it would make this movie lose a lot of its audience, thus losing its community. Also, when it comes to John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place Part II,” that was a movie that I wanted to see in a theater because the first one was easily one of the most unique experiences I have had while being surrounded by a group of people. I guess with all these delays, the theater is going to become “a quiet place.” Meanwhile, “Frozen 2” is getting an early release on Disney+, so if you have young girls, your place is going to become “the loud house.”

I think that some of these actions studios are taking are not only necessary, but simultaneously fulfilling, and some of them could help me, a guy who barely makes plans to leave his house, in the long run. Granted, I do hope this does not shatter the meaning of a communal experience at the movie theater, but I think I would be better off sharing thoughts related to such a topic another time. By the way, this suggests an idea I have in this case. Maybe I can fit in a series dedicated to the coronavirus, how it could *theoretically* impact the film industry, and maybe how it *is* impacting the film industry.

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But if you are loyal to this blog, you may be wondering if I have a concrete plan regarding the future of Scene Before and Flicknerd.com. The answer, yes and no. I have IDEAS, but there is no guarantee as to the absolute likelihood of every single part of my plan falling into place. But this is like how things have always been. I can plan ANYTHING on what my blog is going to entail, what posts I have coming soon, doesn’t make it a guarantee. The only guarantees I can make going forward is that I PLAN to continue making at least one post a week, hopefully within a cycle of every seven days and that I will have at least FOUR reviews coming within the next month or so. I still need to review “Emma,” “Onward,” “The Way Back,” and “Bloodshot.” These four movies will be reviewed at some point, and should things go according to plan, I will be reviewing each of these movies in the order of which I mentioned their names.

Now that I have mentioned that, I will also point out that I might plan on some movies that I haven’t given myself the chance to talk about. Now that a lot of big movies are getting pushed back, this prevents certain event-like experiences from happening. Maybe this period of nothingness will allow me to talk about films I don’t always get a chance to dive deep into into. I always wanted to do a four part “Revenge of the Nerds” review series, where I would talk about each of the films, this even includes the two that were made for television, in depth. Without talking much about the film critically, I have somewhat of a personal connection with the first “Revenge of the Nerds” installment, so reviewing it kind of feels somewhat overdue. If I had other series’ I could accomplish, I have all the “Underworld” installments, and I can review all the ones that I have not touched upon. I want to talk about “Star Wars” episodes I-VII, but at the same time, I want to save that for a special occasion. I’m putting that on the backburner for now. Maybe I could do a Pixar series since I have a number of those movies. The same goes with DreamWorks Animations. I also have a 4K boxset of the “Matrix” trilogy in my room sitting around. Part of me wants to unwrap it to see the films in 4K glory, and ultimately review them. Speaking of Keanu Reeves, while I did already review the second and third “John Wick” movies, I still need to talk about the first one. Maybe I could touch upon that! I also maybe could do films that are lacking in a franchise, allowing for more refreshing content that could stand on its own. It can either be a good reminder of standalone films that have come out over the years, maybe a PSA to those who have overlooked a particular title, or some other reason. For all I know I could be reviewing a movie that is beyond terrible and should never be watched for any reason. One other idea I had was to talk about some older movies. Thus far, the oldest film I have talked about in terms of reviews happens to be “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Maybe I could talk about some films older than that, maybe from the 1950s, 1940s, or even 1930s.

Speaking of reviews, one of the reviews I have waited LITERALLY FOREVER to put out is for STX’s “My Spy.” I cannot say anything about it, but what I can say about it is that it is going to have a difficult time getting into the public eye, as if it hasn’t had a hard time already. It already released in Australia in January, and in Britain just this past weekend. “My Spy” was supposed come out in August of last year, only to be delayed to the most recent weekend of this year. As we approached the release date of the movie, it just so happens that it managed to get pushed back AGAIN to April! Why? I doubt it has to with corona, and maybe it had more to do to with having less competition during the month. After all, now that “No Time to Die,” the latest Bond film has been pushed back to November, it opens up the opportunity for another spy film to swoop in its place. But I gotta be honest, I am not going to be shocked if the film gets pushed back again. However, I will also be disappointed. After all, I SAW THE FILM IN JANUARY AND I NEED SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT! I have not finished a review for “My Spy,” but I still have my points that I want to talk about. We’ll have to see what happens to this movie, but my gosh! How is STX still holding onto this thing? I’m kind of surprised they haven’t dumped it out of their schedule entirely and sold the rights to Netflix!

I want to say that this ongoing trend could lead me to providing you all with more trailer reviews, because I could easily watch them on a device I have access to. Unfortunately, given the way things are going, it seems I won’t even get to watch a trailer for anything. After all, if the movie industry itself is in a major shutdown, there will barely be any trailers to support those that are still coming out.

I could dive into the realm of countdowns. One of the things I have honestly considered doing at this time is adding more installments to the series “Top Movies of the 2010s.” I say that because I labeled it as a countdown event. If I wanted it to be event-like, why not have it go on for some time? I don’t really have many ideas for original countdowns at this point. Although I have previously been thinking, and I might want to do a countdown on my favorite “Star Wars” battles, specifically ones fought with lightsabers. I almost did it around the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” but that idea failed to see the light of day.

I was not going to originally reference this, but a friend of mine suggested that I should start reviewing TV shows from streaming services. First off, I am incredibly thankful for the idea. This gives me a TON of new material to work with. But that also brings in a problem. I don’t focus on TV in general. Yes, there has been the rare instance where I would do a random post on a TV show, but they would highlight something that stands out to me, or maybe it intertwines into movies. I appreciate the idea, but for now, Scene Before is not going to focus on television. Who knows? Maybe if this gets worse, maybe the government will insert a dome over the area most affected by the virus, isolating them from everyone else, and eventually attempt to blow the area up. Spoiler alert for those of you who have not seen “The Simpsons Movie.”

Now, one thing I should point out is that last month was the release of the 2nd Annual Jackoff Awards. Guess what? Even before the 2nd iteration of my personal film awards show, I started planning the 3rd. But with this new situation that could last forever, I am beginning to wonder if there will be a third. Because to do an award show like this, I need to see tons of movies, that way there is a variety of potential nominees. If I just have random movies that came out from January to March, it might not cut it. At this point, Best Picture would probably go to something like “Impractical Jokers: The Movie.” I want to be optimistic and say that I can probably start going to the theater again by May, June, July, but for all I know, this highly contagious disease could prosper and linger into our lives during 2021. If this affects me as a moviegoer, there’s a solid chance that I might have to cancel The 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards. Keep in mind that The Jackoffs are supposed to be a celebration of a year in film, and if I cannot celebrate a year, there is no point in doing it. And no, if 2021 turns around and I do The Jackoffs for that year in 2022, I ain’t including 2020’s films in it. It has to be a FULL year from January to December, NO EXCEPTIONS. I will say though that for maybe this one year, I might bend the rules to allow the presence of movies that were SUPPOSED to come out in theaters that were ultimately put out for home viewing because of COVID-19, but anything is possible when the world is hunting for hand sanitizer.

But in all seriousness, this is an ever-changing time. Not just for me. I am willing to experience it and live through it, even if that means shattering my brain wide open. I just tweeted this the other day, because the truth is, I love being by myself. Alone time is one of the things I value most. I rarely see friends, I don’t always make plans with others, I don’t socialize that often. But here’s what I said the other day. By the way, follow me on Twitter at @JackDrees if you haven’t done so already!

This really feels weird! Until COVID-19 hit, I felt like “that guy” who always wanted to be alone. And now the government, my country, and those around me, are forcing everyone to be alone. This is essentially a movie, I really hope they roll the f*cking credits soon, and I won’t be sticking around for any additional scenes! I’m done! This is anger! This is rage! THIS IS WHAT THE INTERNET IS ALL ABOUT!

Thanks for reading this post! These are simply ideas that I have going forward. I will continue to create material while I still have the opportunity, not to mention, the sanity. Nevertheless, here’s hoping your day is as cleansing as hand soap and nowhere near as crappy as toilet paper! My next post is hopefully going to be for my long overdue review of “Emma” directed by Autumn de Wilde. I will have my review up for that, along with other films that I managed to see while society was still doing things. Remember doing things? What time that was to be alive! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, and DON’T WORRY! It’s free! I know it’s a dire time, but if you want some free material to gloss over whenever you have spare time, which is probably all the time now, give this blog a follow! Also, speaking of stalking the Scene Before blog, go over to Facebook and like the official Scene Before page! I want to know, what are some suggestions for material that you have for me as we elbow bump our way through the coronavirus? Or, what is a movie you recommend for isolation, or hanging away from everybody else? Leave your comments below, this can be great conversation starter for everybody tuning in! Who knows how long this is gonna go on? But holy crap, I need my head to stop spinning NOW. Scene Before is, and always will be, your click to the flicks, and your destination of all your movie needs during this apocalypse! Why couldn’t it have been zombies? Why this?!