Hollywood prepares to hit pause on release dates for early 2021 blockbusters
With coronavirus vaccines slowly making their way into communities across the globe, hope is on the horizon.
That said, ultimate relief from the spread of novel coronavirus is unlikely to be achieved in the next few months.
Ever aware of this, Hollywood producers are putting the brakes on the release of numerous films.
According to Variety, the majority of potential blockbusters have already been postponed to mid-summer or later. But a few films scheduled for the first quarter of the year: Sony’s “Cinderella” starring Camila Cabello (Feb. 5), Disney and 20th Century’s “The King’s Man” (March 12) and Jared Leto’s superhero thriller “Morbius” also from Sony (March 19), are some examples. It's unlikely these will keep their theatrical release dates.
May is the month of debuts, with the anticipated release of Disney and Marvel’s “Black Widow” (May 7), Warner Bros. and Legendary’s “Godzilla vs Kong” (May 21), Ryan Reynolds’ “Free Guy” from 20th Century Studios (May 21), Paramount’s “Infinite” starring Mark Wahlberg (May 28), Disney’s “Cruella” with Emma Stone (May 28) and Universal’s “F9” (May 28). But many of these titles are likely to shift as well if pandemic conditions don’t drastically improve in the next month or so.
Hollywood producers have various approaches when it comes to navigating release dates amid the pandemic. Disney, Warner Bros. and Universal appear more likely to ride out the next few months, with contingency plans that range from day-and-date releases on streaming services to accelerated premium video-on-demand windows. Neither Sony nor Paramount have a streaming service ready to offload titles, so those companies will probably delay release dates or sell their movies to on-demand platforms like Netflix and Hulu. Paramount has auctioned off most of its upcoming movies and doesn’t have anything on the horizon until “A Quiet Place Part II” on April 23.
As it stands, “Cinderella” is scheduled to become the first release of 2021 from a major studio. But, realistically it’s hard to believe the film will keep its early February release date.
Disney previously-delayed prequel in the 'Kingsman' series, “The King’s Man,” is set to be released in early March. This gives the film slightly more time before the studio would traditionally start showcasing trailers and other promotional materials, but if ads don’t begin materializing within the next few weeks it may be fair to assume that the release of the spy comedy film is once again on pause. There have been rumors that a major streaming service would like to take the film off Disney’s hands, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.
There’s also been talk of another major Disney film, the Scarlett Johansson-led Marvel adventure “Black Widow,” possibly following in the steps of fellow studio release “Raya and the Last Dragon,” which is premiering concurrently in theaters and on Disney Plus for a premium price. Disney insiders have yet to confirm these rumors. But, sources at Disney disputed reports that Pixar’s “Soul” would premiere on Disney Plus, only to announce a month later that “Soul” would open on Disney Plus.
In any case, Variety notes that for many studios, delay, delay, and delay again may be the best option — hopefully for the last time. But if the pandemic has proven anything, Hollywood may find itself repeating this song and dance in another six months.
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