How the $100 billion Hollywood machine is scrambling to come back after its worst year in decades

The domestic box office fell to a 40-year low in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Samantha Lee/Insider
  • The pandemic shuttered nearly every part of Hollywood – from movie theatres to stand-up comedy.
  • Actors, musicians, filmmakers, and showrunners all struggled to pivot during a seemingly never-ending crisis.
  • Insider’s entertainment team spent three months investigating how the industry has managed to press on.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus pandemic devastated movie theatres, cancelled premieres, shook up awards shows, and changed the $US100 billion industry.

And the damage was severe: The domestic box office had the worst showing in four decades while awards shows saw their lowest ratings ever.

Still, pockets of the industry didn’t fare so badly. The music industry, which largely took advantage of ever-evolving technology, found success in streaming and virtual performances.

Insider’s entertainment team spent three months digging into Hollywood, speaking with actors, including Pete Davidson and Michael B. Jordan, along with stand-up comedians, and even fans, who detailed just how 2020 affected an industry meant to bring joy to the masses.

But when that industry is brought to its knees, how does it stand up again?

The $US1 billion box-office movie is dead — for now


Experts tell Insider why 2019’s “Star Wars” sequel won’t be the last billion-dollar movie at the box office, and which film could break through again. Read more.

A ‘one-line actor’ reveals the thankless and gruelling life of Hollywood’s countless extras


Lukas DiSparrow is a Polish actor who’s ready to quit after bad luck on movies such as “Men in Black: International” and “Justice League.” Read more.

No new Marvel Cinematic Universe film hit the box office for the first time in 11 years, but fans say it was actually a good thing


Fans told Insider that without new films they’re actually relieved that they can indulge in story lines safely from the comfort of their homes thanks to new TV shows. Read more.

Disneyland was once the most magical part of my life. Then I grew up.


After a childhood spent falling in love with Disneyland, one reporter now understands more about what she describes as Disney’s troubling, racist past and business practices. Read more.

A complete breakdown of the Oscars diversity problem over the past decade


We analysed the top eight categories over the past 10 Academy Awards ceremonies and found that 89% of nods went to white people and 28.8% of nominations went to women. Read more.

To succeed as a Latinx creator in Hollywood, it helps to be white-passing


“Gentefied” cocreator Marvin Lemus told Insider that he thinks Hollywood continually “whitewashed” Latinx stories up until very recently. Read more.

Diversity onscreen continues to improve but Black filmmakers like Michael B. Jordan say the fight must now move to the boardroom


Michael B. Jordan told Insider that it is important to “control your own destiny” and “own things” as an underrepresented filmmaker working in Hollywood. Read more.

The Grammys are the only award show that might actually benefit from the pandemic


Organisers have teased an “intimate” show that they hope feels like an outstretched hand to struggling fans, rather than a bejeweled slap in the face. Read more.

Pete Davidson, Lilly Singh, and other comedians detail how stand-up comedy crumbled in the pandemic — and how a few funny people are trying to break through the rubble


After comedy clubs closed in March, stand-up performers had to navigate the crisis on their own. Some found solace in laughter along the way. Read more.

Editing: Joi-Marie McKenzie, Courteney Larocca, Tom Murray, Megan Willett-Wei, and Daniel McMahon

Reporting: Jason Guerrasio, Kirsten Acuna, Olivia Singh, Kim Renfro, Jacob Sarkisian, Libby Torres, Zac Ntim, Callie Ahlgrim, and Claudia Willen

Design: Samantha Lee, Skye Gould, and Taylor Tyson