There was a brief “golden age” for independent films, and independent-minded films made by the studios. It occurred in the early to mid-1980s and included movies such as The Big Chill, Ordinary People, On Golden Pond. The Direct to video market was the catalyst, created as a result of the introduction of the VCR to consumers.
This created an explosion of demand for new content, and distributors we’re willing to throw whatever was completed at consumers. As a result, you saw films that previously wouldn’t be in theaters: the extended life of the film via video rentals meant that a non-blockbuster film could still make money even if it had a limited run in theaters.
You can see a similar “we’ll buy anything and show it because we’re starving for content” reality on the often maligned streaming service, Quibi.
I think our pandemic movie watching may go through a similar renaissance of original movie story ideas appearing on the streaming services.
Perhaps you’ll see something similar to My Dinner with Andre, where in an updated version the characters have an existential conversation via Zoom.
Unknown actors may be on an even playing field with celebrities if there isn’t a studio marketing budget for celebrity starring films.
Of course, the studios will catch up to the Indies in the same way they killed the original film era during the 1980s: they will figure out how to create incredibly expensive blockbusters during a pandemic, destroying any advantage that indie filmmakers had in the 1980s and right now.
Until then, maybe we will see new film productions and “new Hollywoods” arising in countries that have successfully flattened their curve.