As the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of improving in the near future, a studio executive believes the 2021 movie schedule is a mess.
A Hollywood executive believes the 2021 movie release schedule is a mess and there will be more delays through July. When the coronavirus pandemic forced movie theaters to close last year, studios had no choice but to push back their highly-anticipated titles. Initially, some of these projects moved from spring and summer to fall and winter, but the combination of Tenet's low box office and new COVID-19 cases spiking led to another wave of delays. Movies like No Time to Die, Black Widow, and more secured 2021 release dates, in the hopes theaters would be safer in the new year.
Unfortunately, that hasn't come to pass. Coronavirus cases continue to surge around the world, and a majority of U.S. theaters remain closed (including those in key markets like New York and Los Angeles). Already, 2021 has seen release date delays, with Sony pushing Morbius back to October. The belief is Morbius won't be the only film to move, with many expecting No Time to Die to shift back to the fall. There will likely be many others that follow suit and have their premieres delayed.
A report in THR on the anticipated wave of 2021 release date delays includes a quote from a "veteran studio executive" who has a bleak forecast for the movies this year:
“I think everything substantive between now and Top Gun: Maverick in early July will move. It’s a mess.”
Outside of Morbius, none of 2021's projected blockbusters have been officially delayed, but based on this, it's only a matter of time before that happens. Considering this proves true, the likes of No Time to Die, Black Widow, F9, and more will be on the search for new dates. It's more than likely studios are currently weighing their options before announcing something, trying to find the best window for their respective titles. Right now, there are major releases planned for the fall and winter, which could make that a difficult task (unless those films move as well). It'll also be interesting to see if studios pursue alternative release models for their films, such as PVOD or streaming. The industry remains committed to the theatrical experience, but delaying new movies in perpetuity runs the risk of them becoming stale. That's why Warner Bros. opted to debut Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max.
Despite some encouraging signs, like movie theater stocks rising after Wonder Woman 1984's opening, there's still a long way to go. The vaccine rollout is going slower than expected, new cases continue to surge, and it'll be some time before movie theaters are deemed safe again. Right now, it's not a logical business decision to release an expensive tentpole movie only in theaters. Even in areas where multiplexes are open, attendance is limited and the ticket sales are hardly enough to recoup production costs. The filmmakers want their movies to be seen, but studios don't want to take too many unnecessary losses. Hopefully things will improve over the course of 2021, but right now it's still a mess.