The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially affected every aspect of our everyday lives. As it pertains to the world of film and television, specifically, the coronavirus has brought an abrupt halt to the media entertainment most of us partake in as a hobby or calling. Theaters have been shut down along with most other non-essential businesses, and studios have been forced to reevaluate the release dates of some of the most marketable movies this year, including “Mulan,” “No Time to Die,” “Wonder Woman 1984,” “Black Widow,” and “Dune”. None of us know when we will get to see these hotly anticipated films because the duration of the pandemic can only be read into and speculated upon. Another film affected is “The Woman in the Window”.
Initially, “The Woman in the Window” was slated as a distinguished thriller based on a popular book, à la “Gone Girl,” with an October 2019 release date that could have possibly led Amy Adams to her seventh Academy Award nomination. The film is overflowing with A-list talent on and off the screen: Oscar winners Julianne Moore and Gary Oldman co-star alongside Adams; “Atonement” and “Darkest Hour” director Joe Wright is at the helm; Tracy Letts adapted the source material into the screenplay; five-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel has brought it to the frame; four-time Oscar-nominated composer Danny Elfman provides the score; two-time Oscar winner Albert Wolsky is costume designer. The concentration of A-list filmmaking talent is overwhelming. Last summer, many of us thought: “What could go wrong?” (Or maybe that was just me since this is my kind of quintessential film and talent pool.)
Instead of unfolding as the dream project it appeared to be on paper, “The Woman in the Window” has been put through the wringer over the past year. The film was a property of 20th Century Fox – now called 20th Century Studios – and when the company merged with Disney, its fate never felt secure. After a highly negative reaction from test screenings over the summer, the film underwent reshoots and lost its prime awards release date in October. “The Woman in the Window” was then set up to be released in May of this year, which inspires a continued skepticism from the film’s negative test screenings. Recently, it was announced that the film’s release has been delayed, yet again, this time indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak.
There’s no concrete news as to the destiny of “The Woman in the Window” at this point. However, my friend Michael Schwartz suggested to me that Disney could release the film on their streaming platform, Hulu, imminently rather than waiting to release it at a later time theatrically. This could be a brilliant calculation and yield the most success for this unsettled project if Disney would consider it.
Here are a few reasons why it would behoove Disney to consider releasing “The Woman in the Window” on Hulu in the next few weeks:
- Thus far into the COVID-19 crisis, studios have been creative in trying to mitigate the damage caused to the films in the middle of their release during the last two months. “Emma,” “Birds of Prey,” “The Hunt,” and “Onward” have been made available to stream on various services at a premium price. People are stuck at home with little to do; in quarantine, social distancing, or due to state-wide shutdowns. “The Woman in the Window” would have the opportunity to begin streaming while people are still sheltering in place. A movie of this caliber and notoriety, that appears to be audience-friendly, would gain a lot of traction on Hulu during this specific time.
- Oddly, the plot of “The Woman in the Window” is about an agoraphobic woman who is pent up, restricted to her New York City townhouse. Part of the preventive measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus is to stay at home and keep a six-foot social distance from other individuals. Many of us have been at home, some of us alone, and all experiencing side effects to the new adjustment. The plot, revolving around the anxiety of being limited to the walls of one’s home, would connect to audiences now more than ever.
- Hulu has had recent success with another adult-centric, slightly soap-opera-esque, novel adaption starring A-list talent: “Little Fires Everywhere.” “The Woman in the Window” would pair nicely thematically with people who have been keeping up with “Little Fires Everywhere,” or at least, Hulu would have a blueprint on how to market the film based on the latter’s favorable results.
- The rumor surrounding the quality of the film has been well established: “The Woman in the Window” is closer to “The Girl on the Train” than it is “Gone Girl”. If it continued on its trajectory of being released in theaters, the film will probably have mixed reviews from critics and its box office, as a result, may be affected. It would be difficult for the film to earn a profit with the increased competition of the delayed blockbusters that will be released in a similar time frame. In addition, “The Woman in the Window” could be a blemish on the resumes of everyone involved if it’s released theatrically. By releasing it on Hulu, the damage of bad publicity could be alleviated. No box office numbers would be memorialized in the record; the mixed reviews would be down-played since the film would be a “TV movie”; and the buzz that does get recognized will be from the viewers who are relishing in the film’s campiness and twists.
- “The Woman in the Window,” even with mixed reviews would be in a prime position to pounce on Emmy Awards traction. The Best TV Movie category is always particularly weak, so even if the film’s reviews are less than desired, it could still have an easy time at being nominated, like “Grace of Monaco” in 2015. Amy Adams would be able to compete for her second Best Actress in a Limited Series/TV Movie nomination (following “Sharp Objects” last year) and the film is an ideal candidate for many technical and design categories, for which it probably wouldn’t even be considered at the Oscars if it were released theatrically.
What do you think? Do you agree with this take? Is “The Woman in the Window” better suited to be released as a TV Movie on Hulu rather than be released theatrically? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.
You can follow Ryan and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @rcs818