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SYFY WIRE Midsommar

Coronavirus: A24 auctions props for charity; Warner Bros. 'rethinking' theatrical model; more

By Jacob Oller

A24, the studio behind such recent art-house horror favorites as Midsommar, The Witch, and Hereditary, is auctioning off original props and costumes from its slate of films for charity in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The auction, found here, will see its proceeds go to organizations like NYC Health + Hospitals and The FDNY Foundation, which are helping combat COVID-19 both directly and indirectly.

What that means for fans is that they can give back while bidding on items like “the original 10,000-silk-flower May Queen gown” from writer/director Ari Aster’s Midsommar or the actual light atop The Lighthouse that drove Robert Pattinson and Willem DeFoe stark raving mad.

“As a company founded and based in New York City, we want to give back to the city as it weathers the COVID-19 crisis and begins to rebuild,” A24 said in a statement. “That’s why 100% of each auction’s proceeds will benefit four charities helping New York’s hardest-hit communities and frontline workers: FDNY Foundation, Food Bank for New York City, NYC Health + Hospitals, and Queens Community House.”

The Hereditary auction is open now, while those for Midsommar and The Lighthouse begin on April 27 and May 11, respectively. A doormat from Hereditary currently sits at $5,000.

Next, as some film producers look to help organizations fighting the coronavirus, others are figuring out how exactly they’ll operate in this unprecedented environment.

Variety reports that Warner Bros. has been considering the future of its theatrical releases since deciding that animated feature Scoob! would bring its Scooby-Doo origin story straight to digital. John Stankey, COO of AT&T (parent company of WB), said “We’re rethinking our theatrical model,” on a call with investors. While theaters aren’t going anywhere, the coronavirus may mean that more than ever, they’ll simply be the home for AAA event movies.

That means “tentpole titles, including Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984,” said Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff, are the ones the studio is putting their theatrical confidence behind. This primarily affects whether a film’s release is delayed or if the movie will be dropped straight to VOD. While WB has only done the latter to one animated, kid-focused title, these statements may indicate that others — including live-action movies — could be next.

Finally, the pandemic has also affected another studio: Disney. While Disney’s film wing has simply delayed its blockbusters (like the entire MCU) and ceased production on those on their way, the company also has a lot invested in theme parks...which are about the last thing on the minds of a sheltering population.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, that means the company’s credit rating has taken a hit. On Thursday, S&P Global Ratings downgraded Walt Disney Co.'s credit rating from an A to an A-.

"Continued government-imposed social distancing and, longer term, consumer concerns about attending public events will likely retard theme park attendance," the credit agency wrote in a statement. "We believe that Disney's theme parks could recover more slowly than the overall global economy." While Disney is still fine (an A-minus is nothing to worry about for the gigantic corporation), this is still a sobering reminder that getting back to normal may take longer than many fans wish.

Disneyland and Walt Disney World have been closed since mid-March.