… and More Reshuffled and Rescheduled Release Plans for Hollywood’s Biggest Titles
Disney finally blinked this week, with CEO Bob Chapek declaring that the studio’s highly anticipated live-action Mulan will give up its theatrical window in order to debut on Disney+ next month—with a $30 price tag in the U.S. It’s not clear what, exactly, prompted the decision.
It’s an intriguing experiment on the studio’s part, but it’s also a concession that the beleaguered theatrical business doesn’t seem to be on the verge of recovering any time soon. (The film will be available to theaters in markets where Disney has no announced plans to launch Disney+, Chapek said.) Moreover, with some of the largest theatrical markets still shut down thanks to coronavirus, and many of those that are open required to reduce capacity in order to observe social-distancing requirements, it’s not clear how much business there will be to go around as studio pictures creep slowly back into U.S. theaters.
Here’s a list of some of the highest-profile film releases that have been delayed by COVID-19, along with their current release plans. All dates are, you have to think, subject to change.
The first in a series of planned sequels to James Cameron’s box-office champ is now set to screen in December of 2022, rather than 2021. It is a coronavirus-related casualty—while the film is currently shooting live action in New Zealand, virtual production work has been on hold in Los Angeles. “Prior to the COVID-19, everything was on track to bring you the first sequel in December of 2021,” Cameron wrote in a letter to fans. “Unfortunately, due to the impact that the pandemic has had on our schedule it is no longer possible for us to make that date.” Well, if COVID-19 isn’t under control by December 2022, we’ll have much bigger problems on our hands than another Avatar 2 delay!
Bill and Ted Face the Music
The belated conclusion to the Bill and Ted trilogy is set to debut September 1 in theaters and on demand, giving UA a chance to compare and contrast the two distribution channels in a time of crisis.
Disney pushed the Black Widow solo adventure by a full six months when coronavirus hit, rescheduling it from May 1 to November 6.
The French Dispatch
The latest from Wes Anderson was originally pushed to October before being dropped from the Fox Searchlight schedule entirely by parent company Disney. Could The French Dispatch be another direct-to-streaming success story? Doubtful. Most likely being contemplated is a year-end release to coincide with Oscar season. (That’s assuming we have Oscars this year.)
Disney’s delayed Mulan, originally scheduled for theatrical release in March, will debut exclusively on the Disney+ streaming service September 4. Viewers will pay $30 for the privilege of viewing the title, a departure from the existing Disney+ business model. (Previous titles that were re-steered from theaters to the streaming service, including Hamilton and Greyhound, were bundled into the monthly subscription fee.) And there’s another wrinkle. Perhaps to justify the unusually high streaming price—the titles that Universal gave an early push to streaming services earlier this year were only $20 per rental—Disney says Mulan will be treated more like a purchase than a rental, meaning users will be able to watch Mulan as long as they subscribe to Disney+. No word on whether you can still watch the film if you let your Disney+ subscription lapse for a month or so, and then restart it. Disney honcho Bob Chapek called this a “one-off” when he announced the decision at the company’s earnings call earlier this week, but if it does decent business you can bet Disney will be checking its schedule to see what else it has in the hopper that you might pay 30 bucks for.
The New Mutants
Originally set for a spring 2018 release, The New Mutants was pushed by a year when Fox, reportedly, decided it should be scarier. It’s been getting pushed around the schedule ever since, with an expected April 2020 release never materializing due to coronavirus. The film is now scheduled to open August 28.
No Time to Die
The next James Bond film is holding tight to its rescheduled November 12 U.K. release, though the U.S. release was pulled forward five days, to November 20, last week.
A Quiet Place Part II
This horror sequel was ready to go out on March 20 before Paramount pulled it from the schedule, eventually opting to delay it for more than a year. It won’t grace movie screens until April 23, 2021.
Warner Bros. has its own high-profile streaming service, HBO Max, but it’s not taking the bait. Instead, its upcoming release of director Christopher Nolan potential blockbuster Tenet is now set to open in some 70 countries on August 26. The following weekend, it’s slated to open in “select cities” in the U.S. — presumably WB is selecting those cities where movie theaters are allowed to operate, which leaves metro New York and Los Angeles off the circuit. Accordingly, the studio now says it will not screen the movie for press in those markets, which should result in a decidedly unconventional publicity pattern for the film. Box-office prospects seem like an open question, as well. But one thing’s clear: both Warner Bros. and Christopher Nolan seem hell-bent on a theatrical debut.
Top Gun: Maverick
The Top Gun sequel just has to be a summer movie, so Paramount had little choice but to bump it into next summer. It’s set to come out July 2, 2021, and play big over the Independence Day weekend.
Wonder Woman 1984
Another Warner Bros. tentpole, this superhero sequel originally claimed the August 14 weekend but has now been pushed to October 2.