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The Screening Room | Best films of 2020 | Arts & Entertainment – Champaign/Urbana News

Like so many things in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic profoundly affected the film industry. The temporary shuttering of theaters across the country, the release of multimillion-dollar movies being delayed and the studios trying their hand at showing some of their first-run wares via at-home viewing premieres were the obvious, immediate results, while the long-term effects concerning how and which movies will be made as well as how we consume them are yet to be determined.

Though it was achieved under the most tragic of circumstances, it could be said that Hollywood got its wish this year. The relationship between movie studios and those that exhibit their wares has always been contentious, a situation of dominance for the Tinsel Town titans who have the liberty to set the terms of how much of each ticket sold they take and who gets to show their films. Obviously, they were always couched in their favor, but taking up to 70 percent of the box office at times and demanding that movie chains show their films a minimum number of times a day during the first week of their release was never enough for them. Never mind that the major theater chains — AMC, Regal, Cinemark — have been in financial trouble for years due to these Draconian terms, Warner Brothers, Disney, Paramount and their brethren have always been looking for a way to squeeze every last dime out of exhibitors and bypass them for years.

With massive numbers of theaters closing due to the pandemic, the studios finally had the justification to do just that. The unspoken agreement between them and exhibitors that a 90-day window be observed between the time a film is released in theaters until it’s made its available for home viewing was shattered in July. The announcement that Universal Studios and

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