RENEWED MOVIE DELAYS LEAVE THEATERS IN THE LURCH

RENEWED+MOVIE+DELAYS+LEAVE+THEATERS+IN+THE+LURCH

Kevin Lynch, Entertainment Editor

When most major movie releases were delayed due to COVID-19 in March, most fans viewed the news as disappointing, but understandable. Many major spring/summer releases such as “Tenet”, “Black Widow” and “No Time to Die” got pushed to the fall in hopes that the pandemic would have faded enough for theaters to confidently reopen.

However, as the first major release since the shutdown, “Tenet”, only grossed $251 million worldwide as of Sept. 22, other studios have been cautious in releasing their movies. While “Tenet’s” profit may seem relatively large, it’s budget of $205 million combined with marketing costs means Warner Brothers is only making a small profit, if at all, off of what should have been another very successful Christopher Nolan film.

The poor performance by “Tenet” is likely what caused Warner Brothers to delay “Wonder Woman 1984” to Christmas Day just three weeks before its already-delayed Oct. 2 release date, alongside many other studios who were spooked by “Tenet”. (See below for list of other major delays.)

The owner of the Buffalo Grove Theater, Debbie Benjamin, says that although the delays could potentially cause permanent damage to the theater, she agrees with studios’ decisions to delay movies into next year.

“I understand why they did it,” said Benjamin. “People know it’s not safe to be in an enclosed area, and if people want to enjoy movies like they did in the past and see them in the way they were meant to be seen … then I think it’s in the best interest of everybody, whether it be the employees of the movie theater or the patrons of the movie theater, to stay protected and wait.”

The delays leave October incredibly sparse for any new movies, with November looking to be the same, as the only major release left that month is Pixar’s “Soul”, but even there is speculation that it may be brought to Disney+ like the “Mulan” remake was in September

In place of new movies, theaters like AMC are showing old fan-favorites in their place, such as “Hocus Pocus”, “Friday the 13th”, and a rerelease commemorating the 40th anniversary of “The Empire Strikes Back”, with a large emphasis on horror for the Halloween season.

However, this strategy isn’t as sustainable for some other chains. Plenty of smaller theaters like the Buffalo Grove Theatre have stayed closed since the original March shutdown, and Regal Cinemas recently announced that it would be closing on Oct. 8 until further notice. Even AMC, whose losses are in the billions, has publicly stated that if the situation remains the way it is, they will have to cut theaters in 2021 and 2022.

Benjamin has started a GoFundMe page to give people a chance to support their local theater while it remains closed. In addition to day-to-day worries about the cost of upkeeping the theater, she’s concerned by the direction that the cinema landscape has taken over the past few months, as studios have begun to release more and more major movies on their streaming services while theaters are closed.

The recent termination of the Paramount decrees in August tilts the odds even further away from small, independent theaters, and this, along with the impact of the coronavirus, has pushed the theater industry even further towards a more streaming-focused future.

“You have to put people before money,” said Benjamin. “Unfortunately, some theaters are not gonna make it … you can always find a way to make an income, but you can’t replace a life.”

 

Notable Delays (Dates Subject to Change):

 

“No Time to Die”- Original release date: April 3, 2020 

Current scheduled release date: April 2, 2021

 

“Wonder Woman 1984”- Original release date: June 5, 2020 

Current scheduled release date: December 25, 2020

 

“Death on the Nile”- Original release date: October 9, 2020 (Its first delay was not related to COVID-19)

Current scheduled release date: December 18, 2020

 

Phase 4 MCU films (“Black Widow”, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Eternals”)- Original release date(s): May 1, 2020, February 12, 2021 and November 6, 2020, respectively

Current scheduled release date(s): May 7, 2021, July 9, 2021 and November 5, 2021, respectively.

 

“Soul”- Original release date: June 19, 2020

Current scheduled release date: November 20, 2020

 

“A Quiet Place Part 2”- Original release date: September 6, 2020

Current scheduled release: April 23, 2021

 

“Top Gun: Maverick”- Original release date: December 23, 2020

Current scheduled release date: July 2, 2021

 

“Dune”- Original release date: December 18, 2020

Current scheduled release date: October 1, 2021