Even after a year since the coronavirus pandemic first began in the Wuhan province of China, many theatre owners are still hesitant from reopening the box office. Of course in many countries this is made substantially worse by a second or third wave of increasing Covid cases. While a similar trend can be seen in Maharashtra since earlier last week, many are still unsure about the future of theatres and films in 2021. In other countries the state government or the central government have also stepped in to control the theatres across their nation in their attempts to prevent Covid cases. It goes without saying that all of these necessary measures have resulted in a serious problem for the film industry both in and outside india. While many Bollywood projects are slowly beginning to shoot for upcoming films, there is still little clarity when it comes to their release dates in the current year. Not only does their release depend on a nominal Covid effect but also upon the willingness of many fans to return to theatres amid the fear of the pandemic. It is difficult to blame anyone in this scenario as filmmaker’s too depend heavily on the market to make their money back. Big corporations such as Disney, Warner Bros and Universal are also competing for release dates in the coming future as they have many films lined up from the previous year for release.
However, the pandemic has not been unfair to everyone in the same capacity. While the deadly novel Covid-19 virus has effectively paralysed most international theatres and their business, OTT platforms have reigned supreme. Netflix, and Amazon Prime among other platforms have seen massive growth in their customer base and seen a lot of success when it comes to the critical reviews of their shows. In India as well, many original OTT shows have seen tremendous success and proven that India is a refined market when it comes to the business of shows and filmmaking. Netflix’s Sacred Games and Amazon Prime’s Paatal Lok have both seen immense success and critical acclaim. Netflix has clearly shown that it understands what their audience wants and it is willing to invest in its audience. Netflix is currently gearing up to fill the space left by Big film corporations and has announced a myriad of original films that it is planning to release in 2021. Netflix announced that it will be releasing over 70 films in 2021 that cover almost every other film genre. This number is far higher than any other OTT platform has ever marketed before. The number also exceeds the number of films released by all three major filmmakers in 2019. For comparison, Disney, Warner Bros., and Universal (the three biggest major motion picture studios) combined to release 82 theatrical films in 2019. Their intention to compete with bigger box office stakeholders isn’t new by any means. Even before the pandemic hit the world, Netflix understood the market far better than others that have stepped in the same game. After the Netflix original film Roma won an Oscar in 2018, Netflix has announced that it aims at releasing almost 90 films every year that include documentaries and short films.
But of course Netflix has already begun the process by delivering some successful films already in 2021. Netflix original films like The Map of Tiny Perfect Things have done brilliantly on the platform and received fantastic reviews from critics as well. Hollywood projects aren’t the only ones doing immensely well either. The recently released film, The White Tiger which was based on Arvind Adiga’s book by the same name also garnered immense attention from Indian and worldwide fans alike. The film stars Priyanka Chopra
and Rajkumar Rao in the lead roles and remained on top of Netflix’s charting list for many weeks. Netflix’s Piece of a Woman, featuring an Oscar-worthy performance from Vanessa Kirby is also another must watch that should be a part of every movie buff’s watchlist in 2021. The Tom Hanks starrer News of the World also is a fantastic film that was released exclusively on Netflix early in 2021. If these films are any indication of what’s to come, Netflix will emerge as the biggest winner even when the pandemic is finally over.
In Netflix’s long line of films that it intends to release in 2021, the OTT platform has spent the most amount of money for its original action flicks. The genre includes upcoming films like Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead and the original big budget blockbuster Red Notice, starring Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds. Zack Snyder’s fame in the returning Justice League film might also help when the Army of the Dead finally released on its platform. The film takes place after a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas where a group of mercenaries venture into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted. Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds’s Red Notice follows the story of an FBI agent played by Dwayne Johnson who is on the hunt for the world’s most wanted thieves (Gadot, Reynolds). Other action films include Outside the Wire which released on Jan 15 and Awake, Kate and Sweet Girl.
If the action genre isn’t for you Netflix also has a huge line of films that it has in the romance genre. While films such as The Map of Tiny Perfect Things already point towards a positive result of Netflix’s endeavour, one must still wait to find out too much more about these films. Kissing Booth 3 is one of the much anticipated films coming out this year. The film stars Joey King and Jacob Elrodi in the lead roles. Other films include the likes of A Castle for Christmas, Fuimos Canciones. To all the Boys: Always and Forever which released on Feb 12 is also a part of the huge lineup of films. This film is already doing very well on Netflix as it starts many of the returning cast members in the final instalment of the film franchise. Love Hard, The Last letter from your lover are also a part of the list of romance films coming out on Netflix this year. The genre of horror films include the highly anticipated film, There's Someone Inside Your House which is an upcoming American slasher film directed by Patrick Brice. The film is based on a screenplay by Henry Gayden, and based upon Stephanie Perkins' 2017 novel of the same name. Other horror films include Fear Street Trilogy and No one gets out alive.
The thriller genre includes the coming soon film, The Girl on the Train starring Parineeti Chopra. The film is set to release on 26th February exclusively on Netflix. The Girl on The Train is a Hindi remake of a film by the same name from 2016. The original film stars Emily Blunt in the lead role and is based on a bestselling novel. Other thriller films include Blood Red Sky, Beckett, Intrusion, The Woman in the Window and Munich. The swarm, Night Teeth and Escape from Spiderhead are also a part of this list.
In the genre of drama films, The White Tiger has already left an impression on Netflix viewers around the globe with its captivating performances and heartbreaking story. Filmmaker Halle Berry is making her feature directorial debut with Bruised. Bruised takes inspiration from films like Rocky and follows a story of redemption in the world of female Mixed Martial Arts. The director Halle Berry also stars in her own upcoming film. Another star to look forward to is Ana de Armas who was seen in the 2019 film Knives Out. Ana will star as the legendary Marilyn Monroe in Blonde. Sam Levinson’s film that centres romance and drama and was shot between the pandemic is also set for release in 2021. The film stars John David Washington and Zendaya.
Director Adam McKay who made, The Big Short for Vice is set to release another political satire with the comedic disaster movie Don’t Look Up. The film is about a group of astronomers embarking on a media tour to warn the world of an approaching asteroid that will destroy the Earth itself. Don’t Look Up promises to be one of the best comedy films this year with its stellar cast which includes Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Timothee Chalamet, Jonah Hill, Ariana Grande, Chris Evans and even more A-list star power. Don’t Look Up is one film nobody wants to miss in 2021. Meanwhile, Lin-Manuel Miranda is making his feature directorial debut with the upcoming musical tick, tick…BOOM. While Netflix’s large number of films is clearly headed to compete with the bigger box office market around the world it is also addressing and acknowledging the competition it has in the OTT platform business as well. With marvel industries in full swing, Disney plus hotstar has already released Wanda Vision and will soon release Falcon and the Winter soldier that is set to easily gather up a huge fan base. Unlike marvel fanboys that Disney plus hotstar can bank upon, Netflix has none of that. Instead it must rely on critical acclaim and word to mouth exchange for its films to succeed even after the pandemic is over. And if the current films are any forecast of what is to come, there is no way that Netflix will be losing it’s grip over the audience anytime soon.