COVID-19’s Impact on the Entertainment Industry

Is it the end times already? Everything has stopped! From major events to red carpet movie premieres, everything in between is on cancellation notice. Creatives in the entertainment industry are facing incalculable losses due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and it is not funny.

When the pandemic first erupted at a market in Wuhan, China late January, no one could have anticipated the worldwide economic meltdown it would cause in a matter of weeks. Four different reported cases were confirmed in Kenya in under a week, totalling to seven. This led to the President’s directive to have people stay home in a bid to restrict unnecessary movements to prevent a community spread. However, with this arose a massive drop-down in businesses highly dependent on a gathering. We are talking about movie cinemas, music festivals, art and culture performances you name it.


The government might not have directed the closure of theatres (yet), but they are as good as non-operational. Why? You may ask. The answer is simple, people are “working from home”. Of course, with the ongoing situation, it is just normal for people to maintain minimal interactions with the outside environment. But even before the President’s announcement on Sunday, a lot of movie fanatics were staying away from cinemas, with most Kenyan cinema bookings going down by over 30% or less. These stats are from a movie ticketing company I work for. It is even worse when the city’s biggest cinema -IMAX- only showed “Bloodshot” (which premiered March 13) this week.

Whereas production companies such as Universal Pictures now opt to release box office movies such as ‘Invisible Man’ to streaming services, others are canceling premieres. Warner Bros recently halted production for three of its biggest movies in the past week. So, whatever happens now, 2021 -and probably an additional three years after- will see ripple effects of this dreaded pandemic.

Arts, Culture and General Entertainment

Superbowl LIV, which aired in February, might have been the only global event that got away from the coronavirus in time. But folks, Coachella, Stagecoach, Euro 2020, NBA, UK’s Glastonbury festival, the premiere league, even pop culture’s Met Gala have since been postponed.

Closer home, Blankets and Wine, NRG’s Buju Banton concert and Koroga Festival are the three biggest events that have actually taken place, in three months! Fans were looking forward to showstopping concerts including Beneath the Baobab’s Khanga Festival, Dance Centre’s ballet show and NaiFest to mention but a few, only for them to be postponed.

Ripple Effects

With the cancellation of major events, artists, producers, event organizers, promoters, movie distributors are basically out of jobs. Tickets are being refunded, no gatherings can be formed, what does this mean for them and everyone who is directly or indirectly affected by this? Very little is left to chance.

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