At a time when a trickle of moviegoers has begun to return to cinemas, the distributors of several eagerly awaited films have pushed their movie release dates to ensure that their blockbusters attract the largest possible audience.
As theaters are reopening across the globe, film studios are clearly remaining cautious. Warner Bros. has decided to postpone the releases of Chistopher Nolan’s next film, Tenet, which was slated for July 17, and the Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman 1984, originally due out on August 14. The DC comic super heroin is for now slated to arrive in cinemas on October 2, while Tenet has been pushed back to August 26 this year.
Other major productions will simply not be released this year, among them Godzilla vs. Kong which, instead of showing on November 20 as planned, is now due out on May 21, 2021. The slot in question was originally intended for Matrix 4, whose release has now been pushed back by almost a year to April 1, 2022. Other movies that have yet to be given a new launch date include The Witches by Robert Zemeckis, which was due to premiere on October 9, but has simply been withdrawn from the calendar for the time being.
One of the most shocking decisions is probably for Mulan, the mega-budget live action remake of the tale of a legendary Chinese warrior, which will now be available from September 4 to Disney+ subscribers for an additional $29.99. However, the movie opens in Malaysian theatres this September 4th.
The unprecedented decision – described by CEO Bob Chapek as a “one-off” for a Disney blockbuster – is the latest major blow for movie theater chains already reeling from the pandemic. “We see this as an opportunity to bring this incredible film to a broad audience currently unable to go to movie theaters, while also further enhancing the value and attractiveness of a Disney+ subscription,” Chapek told.
Meanwhile the Avatar sequel will be released in December 2022, and the tenth episode of Star Wars in December 2023, rather than in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
Disney had also decided in early April to push back a dozen Marvel films, including Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson. That is now scheduled to come out November 6, forcing all the other films in the franchise to shift back. Plus, The French Dispatch by director Wes Anderson, which was previously set to debut on October 16 has also been delayed indefinitely.
Also, John Krasinski’s sequel to 2019’s A Quiet Place starring Emily Blunt will be in theaters in the United States on April 23, 2021 rather than this September 4 as previously announced. And the follow-up to Top Gun starring Tom Cruise will be out on July 1, 2021 rather than this December 23.
In this game of musical chairs, one title has fared better than the others, the new James Bond. The next instalment in the 007 saga, No Time to Die, will release in the United States five days ahead of its originally scheduled date. Daniel Craig will reprise his role as the British secret agent on November 20 instead of November 25.
While some venues are scheduled to be reopened soon, it may take time for the moviegoing business to make a full recovery. Customers are slowly returning to cinemas that were closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but clearly they are not sufficiently numerous for several studios, which have opted to postpone the release of their new films in the hope of attracting bigger crowds.