Keanu Reeves fans will be more annoyed by COVID-19 than most. The lockdowns have not only resulted in John Wick 4 and The Matrix 4 being delayed (thus ruining plans for Keanu Reeves Day on May 21st, 2021), but they may see The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run and Bill & Ted Face the Music skip theaters altogether. They’re currently scheduled for theatrical release on August 7th and August 28th, respectively, but an industry analyst thinks it’s very likely that they’ll now be heading straight to digital.
Senior Analyst at Exhibitor Relations, Jeff Bock, spoke to CNN Business about the current release schedule and mentioned both movies, saying:
“We just don’t know at this point what the world will look like in June and July, but what we do know is if studios are planning to release these films in theaters, they’d have to begin advertising them right now. That’s more money that they might be risking. That’s why some of these films make a lot of sense going straight to digital.”
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Neither Spongebob nor Bill and Ted Face the Music are tentpole blockbusters, so don’t get your hopes up about heavy-hitters like Wonder Woman 1984, Tenet or Mulan going digital, too. In fact, BoxOffice.com chief analyst Shawn Robbins believes that major studios want these movies in theaters no matter what.
“Unless there is a drastic setback from current plans to gradually reopen cinemas, I wouldn’t bet on it. The blockbusters remaining on the schedule have too much dependency on box office revenue.”
Beyond all this lies the bad blood between major studios and theater chains over early digital releases. Universal earned themselves a boycott from AMC after releasing Trolls World Tour straight to VOD and based on that, I’d imagine theater chains are similarly upset about Scoob! following the same route, hoping that this isn’t a new trend. And then on top of all that there are the persistent rumors that Amazon is on the verge of buying AMC Entertainment.
Whatever else happens, it seems that we’re going to face a very different theatrical landscape after we get through this pandemic, that’s for sure.