On March 4, MGM’s James Bond film No Time to Die became the first Hollywood tentpole in the C-19 era to delay its theatrical release. The 25th installment in the storied spy franchise moved from early April to Thanksgiving.
At the time, the decision seemed drastic theaters were still open in the US and the World Health Organization (WHO) had not declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic but it proved to be a bellwether of the chaos ahead.
Theaters in the US soon shuttered. Studios rushed to rearrange their slates in what has been the biggest disruption to the release calendar in Hollywood history.
The migration, which is ongoing, will have implications for years to come and will make Y 2021 crowded. Choosing a movie’s date is a vital part of the process. It’s common for the competitive studios to select a date 2 to 3 yrs out for their bigger films.
No 1 imagined the calendar carnage as theaters remain closed amid a devastating surge in cases across the US and in some overseas territories.
On 24 July, Disney said it was taking tentpole Mulan off the calendar and pushing back its Avatar and Star Wars films by a year, through Y 2028
Earlier, Warner Bros. had likewise removed Christopher Nolan’s Tenet before announcing that the tentpole will begin an overseas rollout on 26 August followed by select US cities on 3 September.
Paramount made a major announcement on 24 July, saying it was pushing marquee titles A Quiet Place Part II from Labor Day to April and Top Gun: Maverick from Christmas to June.
“We have never faced such uncertainty, which has resulted in the most fluid dating situation ever,” said the President of domestic distribution at Paramount. “The whole supply chain has been impacted.”
Under normal circumstances, shifting the release date of a tentpole could signal that something is wrong with the movie.
Mulan and Tenet each has moved 3Xs because of the chaos. “This has upended everything we know about the sanctity of the release calendar,” says Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore. “Release-date changes for huge movies have become commonplace and barely raise the blood pressure. Everyone has come to expect that everything is uncertain.“
Sources say it was preferable to unschedule Tenet and Mulan for now instead of announcing new dates and having to move them again. “I think everything is in flux until Tenet goes,” said a Wall Street analyst with MKM Partners. “Other studios will watch to see how many people show up. That could cause some more delays.“
Remaining Y 2020 tent poles on the calendar include Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow, No Time to Die, Free Guy and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. Mulan‘s fate is not yet clear.
Early on in the chaos, many Y 2020 event pics gave up on this year, including The Eternals, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, F9, Minions: Rise of Gru, In the Heights and Jungle Cruise, all of which are now set for the 1st 3 Quarters of Y 2021.
Next year has become crowded, we do not know if the films set toward the end of the year will be able to finish production. With A Quiet Place Part II and Top Gun: Maverick now in the Y 2021 mix, competition will be fiercer.
Meanwhile, Y 2022 may not provide more breathing room: Besides Avatar 2, the next installments in the Thor, Doctor Strange and Indiana Jones franchises also have been pushed to that year.
On 28 July AMC Theatres said it will allow Universal titles to be made available on premium VOD (video-on-demand) after 17 days.
There is going to be a redefinition of what is theatrical and what is not says a Top executive. He says a proliferation of Y 2023 dates are being snatched up for untitled event films and that it is a messy situation.
Have a healthy week, Keep the Faith!