The film industry of 2020 has been defined by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced Hollywood into a continual wave of blockbuster release date delays and new release strategies. All the while, Hollywood and hungry audiences have looked to 2021 as a safe haven where normalcy might return. But in recent weeks, the stark reality of the worsening U.S. COVID situation has set in. California is on the verge of new stay-at-home orders, cases are expected to spike across the holidays, and more than 60% of movie theaters nationwide remain closed. Unsurprisingly, the film industry is now bracing itself for further disruption once the calendar flips.
It was initially hoped that Warner Bros.’ decision to embrace a hybrid release for Wonder Woman 1984 in both theaters and on HBO Max would be a one-off. But with conditions worsening, the studio is reportedly preparing itself for additional changes. Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield’s Judas and the Black Messiah, Denzel Washington’s The Little Things and Tom and Jerry might all be forced into similar hybrid releases, Variety reports. WB was also considering the same approach for its long-awaited Mortal Kombat reboot, but is now expected to just delay the film outright.
Warner Bros. isn’t the only studio grappling with seemingly never-ending obstacles. Disney (DIS) has already rerouted Mulan to Disney+ Premier Access and set Pixar’s Soul for a Disney+ Christmas release. Last week, it was reported that Emma Stone’s Cruella, and remakes for Pinocchio and Peter Pan and Wendy were all heading to Disney+ as opposed to theatrical releases as well. 20th Century, which is now under the Disney banner, is reportedly deciding what to do with the YA musical Everyone’s Talking About Jamie (February 26) and The Kingsman prequel The King’s Man (February 12). As of right now, traditional wide releases in the U.S. do not seem financially feasible.
Similarly, it’s unclear if Sony will push forward with planned theatrical releases for Camila Cabello’s Cinderella (February 5) or Jared Leto’s Morbius (March 19). The latter has a lot riding on it as the second chapter in Sony’s shared universe populated by Marvel characters after Tom Hardy’s Venom. The film even has connections to Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, who is expected to bridge both universes in his upcoming third solo film.
It has already been reported that MGM briefly considered selling Daniel Craig’s No Time to Die to streaming, but that was a short-lived dalliance. Now, after the 007 pic was the first blockbuster to push its release from April to November, its April 2021 debut is expected to be shifted to spring 2021.
“Across Hollywood, executives are expecting the film calendar to remain fluid for the near future,” Variety reports.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to move the finish line every time the film industry believes it’s approaching its threshold. Brace yourselves for an equally chaotic first few months of 2021 as a result.