SXSW 2020 still plans to soldier on amid major coronavirus concerns for now, but there’s no telling exactly how Austin’s biggest festival will look come as major companies continue to pull away from the event, which is supposed to take place March 13 - March 22. Early this morning Amazon Studios announced the cancellation of its planned slate of events, following the likes of TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Intel, and Mashable. Since then, more companies and individual artists have followed suit as the year’s biggest showcase of indie talent and tech continues to fall apart. Let’s face it: Things aren’t looking promising for SXSW. But until we hear that the festival has gone the way of GDC, MipTV, Mobile World Congress, and a host of other sidelined conferences, here is an up-to-date list of all the former participants that are playing it safe and staying home amid COVID-19 concerns.
Apple was prepared to host events centering some of their original Apple TV+ programming, including Spike Jonez’s documentary Beastie Boys Story and a discussion with Little America creators Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon. Per Variety, the conglomerate cancelled their appearance Wednesday afternoon.
Not long after Apple’s departure, the streaming mainstay pulled their own planned slate of events, which included five new films and discussion with Kenya Barris and Rashida Jones about their forthcoming series, #BlackExcellence. THR reported the cancellation.
Like many companies, Twitter has halted all non-urgent travel company-wide until further notice. On Monday, Twitter spokesperson Siobhan Murphy confirmed with The Verge that the mandate included CEO Jack Dorsey, who planned on speaking at the event. The cancellation also included #TwitterHouse, which was scheduled to include “a variety of events and programming.”
Per CNN, the social media giant pulled the plug on all planned events on Monday. A spokesperson for the company released a standard statement:“Due to concerns related to coronavirus, our company and employees will not be participating in SXSW this year.”
The news giant is the latest to drop from the Austin showcase. Per Deadline, the network has pulled all activations but still plans to play The Outpost, the film based on Jake Tapper’s book about U.S. Soldiers and the Taliban. WarnerMedia released a statement to the outlet: “As a precaution, WarnerMedia has decided it best not to move forward with activations at SXSW. We look forward to seeing everyone in Austin next year.”
It’s not just the film portion of the festival taking a hit. Per Variety, all three major music groups “have advised their employees not to attend.” The outlet obtained an internal memo:
“Given the event draws in many people from around the world, we’ve decided to cancel [our company’s] attendance at SXSW this year. … Please note, this is a precautionary measure. Many of our partners are reaching similar conclusions, which also means the benefits of attending would be much reduced,” it continues, before concluding, “SXSW is an important and productive event for our industry and we expect to be back there next year as usual.”
The advisory does not appear to be a mandate, meaning that individuals employed at any of the companies may be present. However, the music groups will not have an official presence. This does not affect the individual artists represented by these groups, though Ozzy Osbourne, Beastie Boys, and Trent Reznor have already cancelled their appearances.
We’ll continue to update this post upon news of further cancellations.