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Jorge Robles, right, buys popcorn from employee Celia Santiago at the Megaplex Theatres at Valley Fair Mall in West Valley City on Thursday, June 18, 2020. After three months of temporary closure due to COVID-19 restrictions, Larry H. Miller Megaplex Theatres are resuming modified business operations.

Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL file

How experts predict the entertainment industry will evolve in 2021

By Cara MacDonald, Contributor | Posted - Dec. 23, 2020 at 2:06 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — The entertainment industry has experienced rapid changes over the past two decades, but 2020 has presented a host of new problems and accelerated evolution.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many problems for the entertainment industry. Movie theaters have remained closed for most of the year throughout the country, according to NPR. As a result, the release dates for movies like "A Quiet Place Part II" and "Wonder Woman 1984" were delayed and films like "Mulan" were released in an online-only environment.

Musicians have been unable to adhere to normal live performance schedules as tours were canceled and small venues were closed, according to NBC. To stay afloat, artists developed new and creative strategies to connect with their audiences via platforms like Zoom through virtual concerts.

More recently, Warner Bros shocked the entertainment industry by announcing they will be releasing all of their 2021 films on HBO Max at the same time as they are released in theaters next year, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Here's what some industry experts have said about how the entertainment industry will continue to evolve in 2021.

More creative presentation

Although a grand reopening may be in sight now that vaccines have become available, the pandemic will likely continue well into 2021 and digital and physical media presentation will continue to merge, Bridget Hilton of LSTN Sound Co. told Rolling Stone. It will likely be a long time before large-scale public events will become available again, and in the meantime, leaders will continue to innovate and improve at-home events like virtual concerts.

Even once the pandemic ends, some predict that virtual engagement between artists and fans will continue, according to Variety. Musicians in particular have successfully augmented their income by hosting private streaming events for which fans could pay to join.

Although in-person events will eventually continue, these creative digital presentation mediums may continue to be relevant throughout 2021 and beyond.

More creator control

Even once large-scale events like concerts can begin again, creators will likely maintain a greater sense of control over their work and connection with the public, Kim Kaupe of The Superfan Company told Rolling Stone.

Throughout the pandemic, creators and artists have maintained direct connections with fans via virtual platforms like social media, and it is likely that creators will want to remain "in the driver's seat" in the future, Kaupe said.

Rising relevance of mobile apps

Time spent on mobile apps reached new heights in 2020 and will continue to rise in 2021, Abhay Singhal, co-founder and CEO of InMobi, told Forbes.

EMarketer reported that since 2019, Americans have consistently spent more time looking at their mobile devices, particularly smartphones, than watching TV.

Streaming platforms changing movie and TV releases

The marketplace for TV and movie streaming services grew by 37 percent in 2020, according to Screen Rant. Though much of that growth came from Disney+, which has hit an unexpected 73 million subscribers in its first year of operation, Netflix continued to dominate and Hulu saw substantial growth as well.

Experts think streaming platforms are likely to continue growing in popularity, according to Variety. Further, theatrical releases simultaneous with the release of new movies on streaming platforms are likely to become the new normal.

Not only that, but Variety predicts that as streaming platforms become more popular they will also begin creating more and more bundling packages. For example, Amazon Prime bundles its Prime Video streaming service with other Prime benefits, and Disney+ added new perks like theme park passes to its streaming service.

Rising book sales

Book sales purportedly boomed during 2020's lockdowns and are expected to continue their skyward trajectory, according to PR Newswire.

The total consumer book revenue globally is projected to grow 1.4 percent annually through 2024, with audiobooks playing a key role in the recent success of the book market.

More tech antitrust regulation

2020 has seen a lot of buzz over antitrust violations by big technology companies like Facebook and Google. Notably, a lawsuit has been filed against Google by the Department of Justice and against Facebook by the FTC, both of which are seeking to prevent the companies from becoming illegal monopolies.

Variety predicts these actions will continue, and be accelerated by President-elect Joe Biden's administration.

Read more predictions about how the entertainment industry will continue to evolve in 2021 on Rolling Stone.

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Cara MacDonald


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