The strangest Oscar’s ceremony on record took place last night, which, according to BBC Culture, was at best a “plain, parsimonious ceremony that had already been stripped of most of its time-honoured glamour.” 

With a huge number of safety protocols in place, no extra guests (and almost no jokes), the 93rd Academy Awards was nothing like we’ve ever seen. Add to that the fact that pandemic cancelled all of last year’s key film festivals, and “awards season was over before it even had a chance to begin.

Although the event itself lacked the excitement and pizzaz normally associated with the Oscar’s, there were many historic wins on file. Nomadland’s Chloé Zhao made history as the first woman of colour and second woman ever to win best director; Kaluuya became the first black British actor to win an Oscar; and Yuh-Jung Youn became the first South Korean actress to do the same.

With an anticlimactic end to a lackluster event, the 93rd Academy Awards are mostly best forgotten. Now, there’s nothing left but to look forward to next year’s ceremony – and filmmakers are optimistic that it’s finally time for production’s glorious comeback. 

Production Makes a Come Back

The production industry was hard hit by the pandemic. In Los Angeles County alone, the entertainment and digital media industry, which employed more than 271,000 people in 2019, saw 90,000 jobs cut last year. Then, another COVID surge in January paused filming again.

Finally however, the industry has taken a turn for the better. 

Productions have begun to bounce back, as shown by a 45% surge in film permit applications from February to March. Last quarter alone FilmLA recorded a total of 7,011 shoot days – only three percent less than during the same period a year prior. 

“The current pace of business resumption is encouraging,” said FilmLA president Paul Audley. “Continuing industry adherence to Appendix J protocols, which has made film sets among the safest possible workplaces during the pandemic, remains important even as local vaccine uptake increases.”

Currently, LA County allows Productions involving outdoor audiences to have a capacity of 33%, or up to 67% if all involved are vaccinated or tested, while productions involving indoor audiences are restricted to 50 hired, tested and masked audience members.

Even with the restrictions, production numbers continue to grow back to their previous glory. Since the resumption of on-location filming last June, FilmLA has received “a total of 6,585 film permit applications spanning 4,421 projects” – with the largest gains among television series, which have doubled from last year.

Production numbers aren’t the only ones on the up-and-up. With vaccination counts growing, theater going is on the rise as well, with some box-office numbers that are looking surprisingly optimistic.

WarnerMedia's Big Bet Pays Off

Last Year, WarnerMedia made headlines – and more than a few enemies – by announcing that their entire 2021 film slate would premiere simultaneously in theaters and on their streaming service, HBOMax. The studio was hounded by industry insiders for their decision, who generally agreed that this new strategy meant the end of the blockbuster as we knew it. 

It turns out that judgement was premature.

WarnerMedia’s March 31st release of Godzilla vs. Kong has changed everyone’s mind on the matter, and vindicated the studio’s unorthodox decision. The biggest box office release since the pandemic, Godzilla vs. Kong has grossed close to $100 million at the domestic box office and $400 million worldwide. According to AT&T CEO John Stankey, the film also “drove signups and engagement on HBO Max.”

“Credit to the team. They have done a remarkable job of engineering that strategy and executing it [and] it’s playing out exactly as we had laid it out for you when we said we wanted to do it,” Stankey told investors on a conference call.

“We have more of the year to get through to see what the balance between theatrical revenue versus SVOD is. But when you look at the customer growth on SVOD, and you see some of the early customer data coming back on movies like Godzilla vs. Kong in theaters, I think you can see that there is a pretty compelling rising tide lifting all boats in this case. ”