You are here

US screenwriter donates medical supplies from Netflix series to healthcare workers

With movie theatres, like this one in Santa Monica, California, shut down, studios are hoping to recoup some of the lost business by giving viewers quarantined in their homes an early opportunity to watch new films.

New York

AN AWARD-WINNING US screenwriter has swapped fiction for fact, donating medical supplies from the set of his hit Netflix series to a New York hospital in a bid to combat the coronavirus.

Ryan Murphy, known for creating and producing a number of popular television shows including Glee, American Horror Story and Nip/Tuck, shared a picture on Instagram over the weekend of the supplies, which included elastic bandages.

The products were used in hospital scenes in the upcoming season of Pose, a TV series about New York's LGBT+ underground ballroom culture in the 1980s.

"Today we donated all our prop supplies to Mount Sinai Hospital to help nurses and doctors battling the Covid outbreak," Murphy wrote.

Murphy, who has won several of television's Emmy awards, did not disclose specifics on what was donated or their monetary value, and neither his agent nor the hospital responded to requests for details or comment.

Last week, Murphy, television producer Shonda Rhimes and television writer Greg Berlanti donated tens of thousands of US dollars to a relief fund for industry assistants and support staff who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

The industry has been hit hard, with production stopped in order to abide by guidelines of social distancing to prevent the virus' spread.

Many of its workers are contractors who are paid by the hour or day and may not be eligible for unemployment benefits.

In the United States, the number of coronavirus cases nationwide topped 40,000 on Monday, more than 500 of whom have died.

Calls have gone out for adequate medical supplies, including protective masks and ventilators.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that local hospitals were on the verge of running out of supplies and in dire need of masks and ventilators.

Hundreds of thousands of masks, gloves and gowns were being delivered to a makeshift field hospital being set up in a large New York City convention center, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

It is one of four temporary hospitals being built in the state to deal with pandemic cases.

Murphy joined other celebrity donors such as daytime talk show host Kelly Ripa and her actor husband Mark Consuelos who donated $1 million to the New York governor's office to purchase medical equipment and to a group running shelters for homeless women.

But some stars, including actor Tom Hanks and model Heidi Klum, have drawn public ire after getting tested for the virus, raising questions about privileged access.

Movie downloads

With coronavirus shutting down movie theatres in the US, films that should still be playing on the big screen are dominating most-downloaded lists.

Over the weekend, Universal Pictures' The Invisible Man and Walt Disney Co.'s Onward were the two most popular movies to buy or rent on FandangoNow online service.

Both were supposed to be exclusively in theaters for the next several weeks, but those plans were upended when most of the 40,000 US theaters closed due to the outbreak.

Studios are hoping to recoup some of the lost business by giving viewers quarantined in their homes an early opportunity to watch new films. That means practically every first-run movie, including Birds of Prey, from AT&T Inc.'s Warner Bros. and Sony Corp.'s Bad Boys for Life, will be accessible to everyone with a TV, internet connection and US$20.

"As fans continue to look for new content to watch at home, FandangoNow has experienced its biggest weekend ever," said Cameron Douglas, who oversees the service. "We expect to see another big week ahead."

But rentals are unlikely to make up for what filmmakers and distributors lose from the shuttered theaters. Some studios opted to delay major films scheduled to premiere in March, April or May, rather than make them available at home early.

The box office is still the biggest source of revenue for new films, even though half of ticket sales go to theaters.

Universal made three new movies available on demand on Friday, including Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma.

All were among the 10 most popular digital downloads on FandangoNow, the service said Monday, without giving exact figures. Fandango is owned by Comcast Corp., which also owns Universal.

Some older favorites could see a sales boost from quarantined fans. Disney's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was the fifth most popular film on FandangoNOW over the weekend. Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.'s Knives Out, which premiered in November, was also in the top 10. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION, BLOOMBERG