It’s no secret that the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has caused massive shake-ups in nearly every sector of the entertainment industry. From mass release date migrations to VOD premieres, the current situation around the world has caused incredibly swift shifts in the moviegoing landscape. The first major news came when the new James Bond film No Time To Die was delayed by over six months to November 25th. This was not the last piece of bad news that would land on the laps of audiences worldwide.
With a now nearly-nonexistent summer movie season, what else is there to look forward to seeing in 2020? Every day it seems like there’s less and less to be excited about cinematically in the current calendar year, and that might be true for much longer than the general public is anticipating. Should this crisis be drawn out to the worst case scenario, there could very well be literally nothing left to look forward to in 2020 when it comes to new theatrical releases. Still, studios are optimistic, as some late summer release date holdouts indicate a willingness (and probably an eagerness) to reopen in the coming months.
So what’s next? There are hopes that this ongoing crisis will have abated enough by July to allow for films like Tenet and Mulan to release on the 17th and 24th respectively, although it should be obvious by this point that all of these dates may as well be tentative. Some stars think there will be specific event films that moviegoers will once again flock to when the time is right. While that may be true, it is not unreasonable to surmise that the ongoing crisis may go on long enough to delay the last summer holdouts into the Fall of 2020 and beyond.
Fall might be the first “normal” season as far as release schedules go. Black Widow’s date was moved by Disney to November 6th, and Denis Villeneuve’s highly-anticipated adaptation of Dune is currently still slated to release December 18th. Other films have been delayed further, with F9 and Minions: The Rise of Gru delayed by over a year. It’s likely that audience attendance in theaters will be incredibly low following the mass reopening of chains like AMC, Regal and Cinemark, so studios could be looking to give audiences as much time as possible to once again become comfortable with mass gatherings. Theater owners themselves are understandable cautious, as many will still refuse to reopen in states that are beginning to lift restrictions.
It is also important to note that, while the crisis may abate in the coming months, it is not altogether implausible that we will see similar levels of social distancing implemented once again in the fall if a vaccine is not rapidly developed. The crisis the world is currently experiencing is affecting release dates in 2021 as well, as many films which were slated to go into (or already in) production this year have been delayed as well. COVID-19 has greatly exacerbated the problems that theater chains are experiencing, including anemic attendance outside of blockbusters. The crisis hit just when blockbuster season was about to start has impacted every theater chain’s pocketbook, and it may already be too late to save some of them.
That is not to say there’s no hope. The movie theater experience has already endured this long in the age of streaming, and is an experience which consumers will still be willing to leave their homes for once it becomes safe to do so. Even if there are not many new films to play upon reopening, renewed releases of past favorites could prove to be fruitful. Perhaps rereleasing blockbusters from years past Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame could be a way to reacquaint audiences with the joys of moviegoing. For those who were frequent visitors of the theater before this crisis, you may be feeling a lot of deja vu very soon.
With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis causing nearly every new release for the summer to shift into 2021, what is left to see in theaters for the rest of 2