In the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the first lockdowns in The Netherlands, heavily impacting the Dutch film industry among many others. Cinemas saw their previously exclusive window shrinking or disappearing completely as distributors searched for the best way to reach audiences and turn a profit, giving rise to concerns surrounding cinema’s position within the film value chain and their role within a society that has had to adjust to staying home during lockdowns. This research looks at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Dutch independent film distributors and exhibitors in light of changes that had been afoot since the mid-2000s, but were rapidly accelerated over the past two years. In light of media industry studies, in-depth interviews were conducted with seven industry professionals with various expertise about their experiences with matters such as digitalisation, streaming services, relationships with other sectors of the film industry, and their dealings during the pandemic. Using value chain theory and experience economy theory, the main question posed in this research is: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted independent film distribution and exhibition in The Netherlands? As of conducting this research, all COVID-related restrictions had been lifted, and participants were asked to reflect on their experiences of the time before COVID, during the lockdowns, and what they might expect from the future. However, there are still uncertainties about the upcoming few months, meaning we cannot yet speak of definitive impact of the pandemic in hindsight. Thus, this research functions mainly as an impression of a historic time where many things are changing, and as exploratory research into a field that has not yet received much attention. Several findings are reported as a result of this research: while the pandemic has shown a continuous value of theatrical exhibition for new releases, it is unlikely that a return to traditional window structures will be seen as (mainly) independent distributors have found profits in shorter release windows and streaming services. In addition, cinemas will need to ensure their focus lies with providing audiences with a complete experience if they wish to remain competitive with increasingly high-quality home entertainment.

, , , , , , ,
Media & Creative Industries
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Postponed until further notice The impact of COVID-19 on independent film distribution and exhibition in The Netherlands. (2022, June 27). Postponed until further notice The impact of COVID-19 on independent film distribution and exhibition in The Netherlands. Media & Creative Industries. Retrieved from