In a move that has been predicted for some time now, a slate of big-budget upcoming 2021 movies have been delayed by several months yet again. Within hours of MGM announcing that No Time to Die has been delayed from April to October 8, it was revealed that Sony has also shifted the dates for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Uncharted, Cinderella, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, and Morbius.
According to a report by Variety, Cinderella starring Camila Cabello will now release in theaters on July 16 instead of February 5. That means the video game adaptation Uncharted starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, which was originally set for mid-July, has shifted to February 11, 2022. Meanwhile, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway has moved back two months from April 2 to June 11, while the Ghostbusters sequel is delayed to November 11. Morbius starring Jared Leto will now release on January 21, 2022.
Sadly, the current state of theaters is such that even these dates are far from set in stone. It is very likely that a few if not all of these movies will be postponed yet again if cinema halls fail to open fully by the end of the year. Different studios have responded to the predicament in contrasting ways.
For instance, WarnerMedia has decided that this is the way that things will be for the near future, and as such, instead of indefinitely postponing their films, they have opted to release all their movies on HBO Max at the same time as in theaters.
On the other hand, Sony is sticking to a purely theatrical release for its movies, even if that means their content has been delayed for more than a year now. In an interview late last year, Sony CEO Tony Vinciquerra had declared that their commitment to a theatrical release has made filmmakers more eager to work with them than with Warner.
“The real benefit [of WarnerMedia’s new distribution strategy] has been the number of incoming calls from talent to us saying, ‘We want to be doing business with you because we know you’re a theatrical distributor and producer. That has actually worked very well for us.”
The truth is, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the release of films at this time. One major reason why Warner decided to take the risk of losing massive amounts at the box-office with an HBO Max rollout for their films was because the studio wants to bolster its fledgling streaming service with a rapid influx of subscribers.
Other studios, which do not have streaming channels, see no reason to opt for an online distribution release strategy yet. At this point, the whole thing is rather like a game of chicken, with the theater industry and studios caught up in a staring contest against the current global medical emergency that has ravaged businesses since last year. It remains to be seen who will blink first and whether the current vaccine rollout will be enough to make a difference in the near future.