There’s a lot going on in terms of what isn’t going on at the movies. Several high-profile releases have been postponed in recent days in response to the still-surging covid-19 pandemic. A brief rundown:
- A Quiet Place Part II, originally set for a March 20, 2020 release (it had its world premiere in early March and everything!) and then pushed back to September 4, 2020, has been pushed back once again to April 23, 2021, according to Variety.
- Top Gun: Maverick, the decades-later sequel to the 1986 blockbuster, was initially supposed to bow June 26, 2020 (that date was actually a postponement from its original 2019 release date) but Paramount pushed it back to December 23, 2020. This week, the studio announced that the movie will now be released on July 2, 2021.
- Avatar 2, for which (LMAO) a 2014 release was initially envisioned, has been pushed back from December 17, 2021, to December 16, 2022. According to Deadline, Sony is taking advantage of Disney’s rearranging by placing the next Spider-Man movie in the December 17, 2021, slot. Spider-Man had been planned for a November 5, 2021 release.
- Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, once envisioned as Warner Bros., hope for getting butts back in theater seats, has been taken off the calendar, according to Variety. Tenet had been initially scheduled to come out July 17, 2020, and then was pushed to July 31, and then August. 12. Warner Bros. chairman Toby Emmerich promised “a new 2020 release date imminently,” adding, “Our goals throughout this process have been to ensure the highest odds of success for our films while also being ready to support our theater partners with new content as soon as they could safely reopen.”
- Disney’s live-action Mulan, which was set to arrive on August 21, 2020, has been delayed indefinitely, according to MSNBC. “Over the last few months, it’s become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis, and today that means pausing our release plans for Mulan as we assess how we can most effectively bring this film to audiences around the world,” said a Disney spokesperson.
- Upcoming Star Wars movies, like Avatar 2 and its planned further installments, have all been pushed back a year, according to MSNBC. The next Star Wars movie is set to arrive on December 22, 2023.
While the postponements of already postponed films may seem absurd, when they could easily be pushed via streaming, there’s a logic to keeping this stuff theater-bound: Studios don’t want their tentpoles getting lost in the streaming shuffle. Though Trolls World Tour was an early pandemic success, reportedly making more money via streaming in three weeks than its predecessor made in five months in theaters, it seems that it was an outlier.
The similarly family-oriented Scoob! hit No. 1 on streaming charts when it arrived via video on demand in May, but it’s already available on HBO Max now, just a few months later. (Warner Bros. has not released its exact revenue figures.) Paying $20 for a new movie that might suck is a risky endeavor for families who pay less than that for an entire month’s worth of a streaming service, which offers access to potentially thousands of movies and TV shows.
Plus, at-home and theatrical viewing of movies are fundamentally different experiences. As Paramount’s president of domestic distribution Chris Aronson and president of international theatrical distribution Mark Viane put it in Variety’s report on the postponement of the sequels for A Quiet Place and Top Gun:
“We truly believe that there is no movie-viewing experience like the one enjoyed in theaters. We are committed to the theatrical experience and our exhibition partners, and want to stress that we are confident that, when the time comes, audiences everywhere will once again enjoy the singular joy of seeing Paramount films on the big screen.”
A single tear splashes down from my face to my keyboard as I pine for that as-yet-determined future.