This year has been a difficult time for movie fans as restrictions put in place by COVID-19 forced film studios to delay their upcoming releases.
Over the past several months, notable titles’ release dates have been continually pushed back in the hopes that quarantine would be lifted by the the time of their scheduled premieres. But as quarantine has remained in effect, companies are still forced to do delay, including industry juggernaut Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Warner Bros. has released an official schedule that revealed various notable movie delays such as “The Matrix 4,” “Dune” and all of their DC superhero films including the highly anticipated “The Batman” starring Robert Pattinson. Many of these films have been pushed back to late 2021 including “The Matrix 4,” moved from April 1, 2021 to Dec. 22, 2021. The only major film that is still set to release this year is the much anticipated “Wonder Woman 1984” which was originally set to arrive in theaters on Dec. 13, 2019. The film was then pushed back several times before being delayed once again to its now set date of Dec. 25, 2020.
“The Batman” has experienced the most spotlight surrounding its March 4, 2022 delay, not only because of its highly-praised debut trailer released in September, but also because of Robert Pattinson’s diagnosis with COVID-19. The film had to delay its production while the actor recovered, which alarmed fans prior to the announcement of the film’s delay. The actor has since recovered and filming has resumed, although it is possible that the film’s United Kingdom set could cause another problem due to stringent conditions concerning quarantine.
Warner Bros. is not alone in their choice to delay. Disney has also been forced to make changes to their release schedule, announcing that three of their films would be pushed back into 2021: “Black Widow,” “The Eternals” and the Steven Spielberg remake of “West Side Story.” Others have followed suit, with Paramount Pictures movie studio delaying releases like “Top Gun: Maverick” and “A Quiet Place 2.” Some, like indie film studio A24, have opted to shelve their films without announcing any new release dates for titles such as “Saint Maude” and “The Green Knight.”
Recently, theaters have made attempts to attract the public but have had substandard results. “Tenet,” the most recent film from blockbuster director Christopher Nolan, has debuted in theaters to an underwhelming box office. Other releases like 20th Century Studios’ “The New Mutants” and family-friendly comedy “The War With Grandpa” have experienced a similar mediocre response. Without new releases, companies like AMC Theatres have begun to show seasonal classics like “Hocus Pocus” and “Coco” in order to drive audiences back into theaters.
Studios have also been searching for alternative ways to draw public attention toward their new releases. The success of movies debuting exclusively on streaming platforms, like Netflix’s “Extraction,” have encouraged companies like Blumhouse Productions to release their films digitally, charging prices typical of theaters to allow audiences to rent movies on online platforms. The success of movies like “The Invisible Man” and “The Hunt” may inspire other companies to do the same. However, this strategy has not proved beneficial to everyone, as evidenced by the commercial failure of Disney’s digital release of the “Mulan” remake.
Due to the unpredictability of what 2021 will bring, companies are being forced to take every precaution possible. What can be assumed is that regardless of what effect 2021 has on releases, the world of movies will change drastically for years to come.
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