This year, studios threw out their playbooks. Leadership structures were overhauled, eight-figure deals came out of virtual film festivals, executives navigated COVID-19 production halts, and the crumbling theatrical window was shattered.
One studio's delayed theatrical title became another studios' new original streaming film. While some focused on remounting pipeline productions, others fast-tracked new productions that allowed for contained stories with minimal casts. Big-ticket packages were purchased with the hope of a future return to theaters and franchise films rejiggered to allow for back-to-back production of installments.
After talks with streamers (see: Apple and Netflix) to sell the domestic rights to the latest James Bond film, the studio pushed No Time to Die to April 2021 and began a buying spree. MGM was a top contender in bidding wars for big-ticket packages. It landed the Ridley Scott-directed and Lady Gaga-starring Gucci, a Ryan Gosling-led Project Hail Mary, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest untitled drama. Film chief Michael De Luca enlisted Pam Abdy as motion picture group president and Michele Imperato to head physical production. In April, agent-turned-producer Alana Mayo joined to head legacy label Orion Pictures, which is now focused on features from underrepresented voices, with Billy Porter’s directorial debut its inaugural project. The studio revived former B-movie banner American International Pictures, acquiring Tate Taylor’s Breaking News in Yuba County as its first release. In April, the studio, which is often seen as an acquisition target and reportedly tapped Morgan Stanley and LionTree LLC to advise a potential sale, laid off 50 staffers.