When the major studios first started pulling their big budget titles from the release calendar and delaying them for anywhere up to a year, even the most pessimistic of analysts couldn’t have predicted that once those twelve months were over, the theatrical industry would still be on its knees.
The box office was down by $30 billion last year, which indicates the size of the hit business took as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, with Warner Bros. trying to get ahead of the game by announcing their entire slate of 2021 releases for a simultaneous HBO Max and big screen premiere, which appeared to be a worst case scenario idea at the time.
Unfortunately, though, there’s little sign of things returning to normal at any point in the immediate future, with 65% of screens in the United States currently closed and the United Kingdom’s biggest chain Cineworld having shut all of their locations at the beginning of October. That makes for pretty grim reading, and it means that even more delays could be on the way.
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There were already question marks surrounding Morbius‘ chances of success anyway, never mind if it debuted in a ravaged marketplace, and Sony made the decision yesterday to push it back by another eight months until October. Meanwhile, No Time to Die and Fast & Furious 9 both come armed with budgets of at least $200 million and would comfortably rank among the biggest earners in any other year, but now they could find themselves being delayed once more as business fails to pick up.
Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is the highest-grossing Hollywood blockbuster of the COVID-19 era by a massive distance, but a global haul of $363 million was viewed as a crushing disappointment by Warner Bros. As such, the competition will have surely taken note as they consider their next move and it wouldn’t be surprising if some of 2021’s biggest releases are pushed back yet again.