The impact of the ongoing pandemic on the film and television industry will change production practices, re-shape the exhibitor sector, transform distribution and expand global opportunities for European producers over the next five years, according to the latest Nostradamus Report, which forecasts trends in film and TV.

Presented by author Johanna Koljonen at the Göteborg Film Festival’s annual Nostradamus seminar, the 8th Nostradamus Report, entitled “Transforming Storytelling Together,” bases its findings on research and interviews with industry experts.

Among those findings: The unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has accelerated structural changes that were already underway. In addition to continuing consolidation, the industry will go through an extensive reality check, moving from streaming wars to dealing with the struggle for truth in media, and from the pandemic to green issues.

The coming years will see the collapse of release windows and the emergence of a content releasing landscape shaped in a common effort by virtually every stakeholder in the industry, according to the report.

“Major titles may still have a short exclusive theatrical window, but we are just as likely to see a first digital window either slightly earlier, or day and date,” the report states, adding that the titles that disappear from movie screens “are the titles that do not perform in theaters.”

Despite the changing distribution landscape, “the industry is fundamentally robust,” the study finds. “Increasing systemic awareness across the value chain will increase its resilience and efficiency,” it adds. Sales and distribution players will have to “leverage a deep understanding of the audience and use data better in every aspect of their work to stay relevant at all,” the report warns.

Theatrical exhibition will be diminished as a market, but revitalized as a dynamic and influential part of film culture, the report states. “Five years from now, fewer cinemas will be operating on the current model, but doing well, as will more upmarket offers.” Opportunities for experimental exhibition will arise as a result of affordable cinema real estate in the wake of pandemic closures, it predicts.

The small screen will become the financial and likely “the artistic heart of the converged film and TV industry,” with home SVOD gaining a much bigger spend. Content exclusivity will not be central to business models, which will lead to a more open market, the study forecasts. And younger audiences that are consuming and producing video outside traditional domains will drive innovation.

By 2026, virtual production will have normalized across the industry, unlocking opportunities and artistic innovation.

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Johanna Koljonen Göteborg Film Festival

“Growth in the TV marketplace will compensate for the challenges in feature distribution,” Koljonen said. “But it’s important not to get complacent. When the whole landscape is shifting at the same time, anyone who isn’t actively innovating may find themselves sidelined.”

In addition, increasing demand for diverse global content will continue to create opportunities for European producers even as feature film numbers decline. The report notes that the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services directive (AVMS) requiring streaming services in the E.U. “to show at least 30% European content is increasingly viewed as a win-win.”

The industry will also be marked by two issues of particular concern: The intensifying battle over “truth” in media and the escalating climate crisis.

The growing politicization of content and the “struggle for the control of truth between liberal democracies and authoritarian populist movements has unpredictable and occasionally devastating effects on media companies, legislation, audiences, and public funding,” the report states.

It adds that many of the world’s premier production hubs are located in very warm regions or facing extreme weather events, with climate change already affecting things like shooting schedules.