No hiding place: Travolta and Willis get an unwelcome dose of limelight in the Covid era

With VOD now the way to watch new releases, Hollywood’s old-timey workhorses might be washed up, but they are suddenly getting plenty of attention

In the forthcoming movie Anti-Life, Bruce Willis plays the leader of a roughneck crew of mechanics tasked with saving the remnants of humanity from the claws of a murderous shape-shifting alien. In another age – say, 25 years ago – there is a chance that Anti-Life would have wound up as the seventh or eighth biggest film of the year. However this is 2021, and Anti-Life looks destined to become yet another miserable, unloved video-on-demand (VOD) offering that primarily exists as a vehicle for Bruce Willis to sleepwalk to his paycheque.

Or at least that would be the case if the cinemas were open. But they’re not, so Anti-Life finds itself on an equal pegging with every other movie that comes out. Because now all movies, be they compromised blockbusters or terrible late-period Bruce Willis filler items, are VOD movies. Regardless of quality, they are destined to be flopped on to the same dreary streaming menu. At time of writing, the “top new releases” section on Rakuten includes Wonder Woman 1984, The New Mutants, an Anthony Mackie/Jamie Dornan double-header that could be about anything, a documentary positing the theory that we all live in a computer simulation, and a film called Jiu Jitsu, where Nicolas Cage beats up some aliens with a sword.

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