The spread of Coronavirus has forced the cancellation of LA Screenings, the annual US-based sales event organised by the distribution arms of the American studios, while production on numerous shows has been paused.
News that the week-long LA-based Screenings would be paused came as it emerged that there are now almost 2,000 cases of Coronavirus reported in the US so far, with more than 40 deaths.
The threat prompted president Donald Trump to implement a US-European flight ban earlier this week, which has further shaken international markets.
Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony, ViacomCBS and Warner Bros said overnight they had decided “to explore alternative options to hosting the 2020 LA Screenings”, which attracts buyers from around the world looking to acquire shows from the studios.
In a collective statement, the companies said: “It is out of an abundance of caution, and with the health and well-being of our clients and employees at the forefront, we have collectively decided to not hold LA Screenings events this year and will instead explore alternative options in which to showcase our respective upcoming content.
“While we look forward to hosting our clients at this time-honored industry event, in acknowledgement of – and out of respect for – the travel bans, travel restrictions and evolving public health concerns of our global client base, we believe that not having our clients and executives travel into Los Angeles from various locations around the world is the most responsible course of action.”
The companies said they would each “be individually communicating its alternative screening plans to clients soon.”
A growing number of TV shows have also been forced to postpone production, including a swathe of programming from NBCUniversal. Its Universal Television, Universal Cable Productions and Universal Television Alternative Studios have paused operations, with shows such as Chicago Fire and Law & Order: SVU affected.
NBCU’s talkshow The Kelly Clarkson Show has also had its production temporarily halted, along with the second season of Russian Doll for Netflix, which Universal TV produces.
CBS has already temporarily halted The Amazing Race in the US – and the Australian series will now not take contestants abroad – while Studio Lambert has postponed production on the celeb travel show Race Across The World, which is due to air on the BBC in the UK.
Production of CBS dramas including The Good Fight have also been affected, while The Eye’s reality veteran Survivor has seen the planned production of its 41st season in Fiji delayed. In Europe, the second run of Carnival Row is among series to be hit, with the Orlando Bloom show’s production paused in Budapest.
Other series to be impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak include The CW’s Riverdale, from Warner. Bros, Netflix’s Grace And Frankie, and Apple’s second season of The Morning Show, produced by US-based Media Res, which has been paused for two weeks. Elsewhere, Fremantle’s America’s Got Talent will now not feature a live audience.
The Upfronts, the advertising-focused week of events which take place in New York the week prior to Screenings, are also off, after the governor of New York introduced a ban on gatherings in excess of 500 people.
The ban, in place “for the foreseeable future”, will affect companies including CBS, Fox, NBCU and WarnerMedia, which have each said they will offer digital alternatives.
They join the growing numerous events that have already been cancelled or postponed as Coronavirus impacts markets and conferences both in Europe and around the world.
Austin-based SXSW and Cabsat in Dubai have both been affected, while this year’s MIPTV in Cannes and the 2020 edition of Series Mania in Lille have also been scrapped. Rai also confirmed it was not moving ahead with Cartoons on the Bay.
Industry launches have also been affected, with Disney calling off its European event for Disney+ and Quibi scrapping plans for its April 5 launch party in California. The streamer is due to go live on 6 April.