If a story like this had been made into a film and released on the big screen, most of you would have dismissed it as fantastical, fear-mongering science fiction.
In fact, the screenplay might have faced quite a challenge even getting green-lit.
Perhaps television audiences would have been more receptive to presenting a tale showcasing what the first half of 2020 has wrought on the people of Earth.
Only through a TV miniseries or regularly produced serial could one convey the “unprecedentedness” of it all.
It’s unfathomable that not just one part of the world, but the entire planet – every single nook and cranny – would be paralyzed by a virus of disputed origin, and that unheard of measures to prevent its spread would result in most of the global population being forced to hole up like prisoners in their homes, or don suffocating face masks and bathe in Lysol, isopropyl alcohol or hand sanitizer in order to venture out to stand in long lines to pick up food and toilet paper ordered online!
That’s, of course, on top of the fact that millions got sick and hundreds of thousands have died in just a few months. Yet the fear of the virus is nothing like the terror people face as millions are out of work and we teeter on the edge of a global economic collapse.
And in an even more shocking plot twist, in the middle of all this, race relations and police brutality issues have been sprinkled in.
Yes, the demented screenwriter for the year 2020 has decided to combine some of the darkest elements of nearly every single horror movie ever made.
So while various movies about viruses like “Outbreak” and “12 Monkeys” gave us hints of what to expect in a pandemic, and recent outings like “A Quiet Place” and “Bird Box” have shown us what we might look forward to from our fellow humans during times of crisis, it’s been TV shows that have most accurately predicted our current realities.
“The Walking Dead” and “The Leftovers” have really captured that sense that whatever may come to plague the world and the feeling that it will not end will never be as frightening as the reactions and responses of the supposedly normal and healthy humans who’ve been left behind.
So how will this 2020 TV series play out? And what does it mean for something as simple as the beloved pastime of “going to the movies”? And while we get more accustomed to watching our movies at home and binging on television like never before, is there even a place for this in our future?
With not much happening at cinemas since March, the only thing clear is that there won’t be much worth going to see for a while. Movie studios are being cautious with their scheduling, especially with so much still unknown about COVID-19, and words like “surge” and “second wave” being bandied about.
As such, here we are in June, and the 2020 summer blockbuster season is obviously not going to be a thing. Quite a few movies have been going straight to video-on-demand and streaming services. But these arguably are pictures that would barely have been blips on the radar in a normal year.
Instead, many films have been delayed until the final third of the year, if not until next year, with everyone hoping and praying that life will be close to approaching something appearing “normal” before winter.
Before then, the studios will ease back into theaters. Disney appears to be the first prepared to dive into the deep end with the live-action version of “Mulan”, tentatively scheduled for release next month. Originally slated for March, it will be the first big test of whether audiences are even interested in sharing a theater with others.
Everything else planned for release during the summer months is largely disposable fare, including the much-delayed “The New Mutants”, a spin-off of the X-Men franchise.
Otherwise, all bets seem to be placed on the fall. Some of the year’s biggest movies will finally make their debuts beginning in September, if all goes well.
“A Quiet Place II” was set to storm into theaters in March, and even held its world premiere just before the pandemic took hold. It moves to early September.
Jordan Peele’s “Candyman” premieres at the end of that month, followed a week later by 2020’s most anticipated film, “Wonder Woman 1984”. Both pictures had been scheduled to be released this month.
The “Black Widow” prequel to “The Avengers” previously scheduled for May moves to November, as has Daniel Craig’s final James Bond adventure, “No Time to Die”. Both now will appear five and six months, respectively, later than originally planned.
And December should see the “West Side Story” remake and “Coming to America 2”, both among the few pictures actually sticking to their original release dates.
Will anything be able to adhere to these plans? Are any of these movies big enough to draw people into theaters? Is the public willing to head back to the multiplexes, as opposed to the comfort and safety of their homes?
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s “don’t make any hard and fast plans”…and “expect the unexpected”!
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email [email protected] and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.