Mike Berland

Sep 28, 2020

6 min read
Graphic by K8 Strassman

5 Reasons why the Entertainment Industry is the ultimate Momentum Master.

September 6, 2020

Award season is upon us, so we’re decoding why the momentum for the entertainment industry is UP while momentum for celebrity drama, gossip, news (& even ultimately Reality TV) is DOWN.

Every industry has been disrupted the past 6 months — travel, hospitality, retail, commercial real estate. But the entertainment industry has been one of the hardest hit: theaters shut down, movie releases postponed, concerts canceled, productions shut down, studios couldn’t make films. The talent couldn’t act, artists couldn’t perform. From LA to NY and across the world, the industry came to a halt. The entertainment industry came to a complete halt.

….But the one thing we know about the entertainment industry is the show must go on.

Leaders in entertainment are momentum masters by nature — they know that success requires continuous transformation and they know how to make it happen. This was just another moment for another transformation.

Our MFactor shows that right now, the entertainment industry has huge momentum because it is leading all of us to the future state.

On the flip side, momentum for celebrity drama, gossip, news & ultimately reality TV is down because while sheltering at home, the celebrity lifestyle is just like the rest of ours… pretty routine. Sure, we baked our bread, mixed our frozen margaritas, and went for our RV trips, but is that the stuff of great content? Where is Jerry Seinfeld right now, we need a show about nothing. There’s nothing particularly interesting or exciting about a celebrity sheltering in place and living at home just like everyone else.

The Decode

ON THE UP: ENTERTAINMENT

Here’s how the entertainment industry is hitting all Five Drivers of Momentum:

DISRUPTION: The past few weeks have seen an incredible wave of celebrity entrepreneurship. Throughout the quarantine, some celebrities made it clear that they wanted to stay low key on exciting projects they’d been working on. As Selena Gomez put it through an IGTV post: “with everything going on, it felt a little insensitive to post things that may be a little joyful or celebratory.

This is changing as celebrities open up about their quarantine passion project, showing us another side of themselves and their business interests.

  • Karlie Kloss, along with a group of investors, is evolving her interest in fashion through acquiriinig W Magazine from Condé Nast.
  • Selena Gomez’s newly released Rare Beauty is combining her passion for makeup with her mental health advocacy work by donating 1% of sales directly to mental health services in underserved communities.
  • American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer Travis Scott loves his McDonald’s order so much that he partnered with the McDonald’s to release the ‘Travis Scott Meal’ and hinted at more surprises to come from this iconic collaboration. Supermodel/entrepreneur/influencer

INNOVATION: Creating a little mystery / magic in the production process is driving FOMO and engagement this award show season. Award shows have been on the decline, criticized for being stale and unexciting. The pandemic is accelerating their much-needed evolution. Who would have thought MTV, who was “best days behind”, would come roaring back, giving us a glimpse of the future of award shows with last week’s VMAs. Performances recorded from multiple locations across New York City and LA, cameos of the Empire State Building, hybrid model of pre-recorded mixed with live through Zoom acceptance speeches, and new categories relevant to quarantine. MTV successfully pulled off a socially-distanced and entertaining show.

Their real key to success was that throughout the show, viewers had no idea how MTV was pulling it off. Unlike the professional sports leagues, which were required to make all details of their pandemic strategy public in an effort to make everyone comfortable, MTV boldly took the opposite approach. The VMAs rejected its stale, predictable stereotype by intentionally not revealing how the show would go on (but creating intrigue among New Yorkers with unexpected fireworks). The mystery created a burst of excitement when the show finally began and sent Twitter users into a frenzy, making it the “second most-socialed show of the year.” The VMA’s kept viewers engaged, intrigued and surprised and created FOMO among those not watching. Just as the producers had hoped: “It’s not like ‘Oh, that was a COVID show.’ No, that was the VMAs.”

POLARIZATION: Many entertainment industry leaders are shying away from this summer’s hot-button conversations & controversy, some even holding off on releasing content until it all settles. Female powerhouses Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion are actively leaning into controversy with their latest single “WAP.” The song sparked discussion and debate of female empowerment, sexual liberation and diversity & inclusion. Right-wing politicians like Ben Shapiro and James P. Bradley are leading the conservative crusade against the sex-positive single, attempting to have it banned and claiming it threatens the very future of women. These debates have only made “WAP” more popular, reignited larger conversations about the censorship of female sexuality, and forced people to confront the overt misogyny and double standards present.

STICKY: Most movie releases are memorable because of the plotline, acting, directing and cinematography. This summer’s major “box office” releases will be remembered for the way they are being released in the pandemic.

  • Continue to postpone release
  • Release films in theaters when it remains to be seen whether Americans feel safe sitting near each other in enclosed spaces
  • Release them on a streaming platform and forego the traditionally profitable theater experience.

2 movies finally took the leap and made the decision to release.

Disney’s Mulan was originally set to debut in March, but was postponed in the hopes of a later in-theater premiere when deemed safe. Disney pivoted and ultimately released Mulan on Disney+ September 4th for a $29.99 fee. The benefit was two-fold: allowing Disney to add a revenue stream when they need it most and the ability to experiment with different forms of “box office” distribution to see what sticks.

Warner Bros. went the opposite direction, opting for a September 3rd in-theater release of Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated Tenet. After multiple delays, Tenet was the first big title to hit theaters post-pandemic shutdown. The release marks a major test for the movie industry in the covid-era and will signal whether or not there’s hope for people coming back to theaters.

SOCIAL IMPACT: Entertainment has always been more enjoyable in the company of others. 6 months into the pandemic, complying with pandemic guidelines and enjoying in-person entertainment with others at the same time still isn’t easy. Drive-ins (in the most unexpected and cool locations) are attempting to solve that by offering a communal yet not overly-social alternative to traditionally crowded activities and bringing people together (safely) when they need it most. Even the DNC had a drive in rally for joe Biden/kamala Harris when they got their nomination.

Encore Live partnered with 300+ drive-in theaters to show a pre-recorded Garth Brooks concert in June. Not only was the event pandemic-compliant, but it was also the largest sale in Ticketmaster history and brought 350,000 people across the country together. Going to the drive-in (compared to just watching or listening from a couch) enables the escapism that entertainment was designed to provide. They can forget about politics, the coronavirus, and the economy for just a few hours, and just sit back, relax, and enjoy.

ON THE DOWN: CELEBRITY DRAMA, GOSSIP, NEWS & REALITY TV

The pandemic has acted as the great equalizer. Without the typically busy celebrity social schedule of red carpet premieres, parties, and in-person award shows, most celebrity “news”, gossip and drama has consisted of mundane sightings at the grocery store or reports of celebrities ignoring social-distancing guidelines rather than speculation of new love interests or drama from late night summer parties. Most celebrities are living just like the rest of us (boring!), which certainly won’t make for good reality TV or tabloids (unless you are a Kardashian… we are eagerly standing by for their quarantine season of KUWTK).

On the flip side, other celebrities are strategically staying quiet and letting their work speak for them. Think: Billie Eillish, Alicia Keys.

The Takeaway:

Momentum requires continuous transformation. We’ve moved past speculating about the future and the “new normal”. We are in the future right now and the entertainment industry is leading it.