Should Hollywood concede defeat and wipe the 2020 release slate clean until the COVID-19 pandemic eases?
No, it’s not a typo. Is it time to cancel ALL film releases for this year? To be clear, these are MY feelings and doesn’t speak for any other member of the FOTF team. However, I think it’s time for me to say what I think.
With the recent news that ‘Halloween Kills‘ has been pushed back by a year to October 15th, 2021, it stands to reason that the movies that are currently earmarked for release later this year are now in serious danger of not opening until next year at the earliest. I mean, let’s look at the facts. ‘Halloween Kills‘ was due to open in October of this year. In the same month, ‘Wonder Woman 1984‘ is due for release. It has been pushed back already twice so far and now is in danger of not opening this year. ‘Candyman‘ has now been pushed back to fill the spot that Michael Myers has recently vacated but how long before that gets delayed even further?
The theatres in America are currently still closed, a situation that sadly looks like it won’t be coming to an end any time soon. Theatres in New York and Los Angeles look almost certain to remain closed for the considerable future and as such, the American markets won’t be able to hit the revenue that these films need to become a success. Even China isn’t looking too good at the moment with regards to film openings. And if the studios decide not to release their films in the U.S, this will set in motion a domino effect with regards to the rest of the world’s movie theatres. The film doesn’t open in America, the film won’t open worldwide. This doesn’t bode well for the likes of ‘Mulan‘, ‘Tenet‘, ‘Unhinged‘, and ‘Bill And Ted Face The Music‘ which are due for release in August. These dates may be far too soon to have put in place as it is looking more likely that the theatres won’t be allowed to open.
Universal Pictures is behind the release of ‘Halloween Kills‘. They are also handling, with Sony Pictures, the release of the latest James Bond film, ‘No Time To Die‘. The latest Bond film has been delayed already from April to November and as ‘Halloween Kills‘ was due to open around a month before Bond, this too could become a knock-on effect for the film. I can’t honestly see the film opening in the U.K as it is supposed to without the film also being allowed to open in America. The American market embraces the franchise and allowing the film to open without the U.S domestic market being open for business is not good for the film’s chances of becoming a success.
The same conditions apply to Disney’s ‘Black Widow‘. No theatres open, no release for the film. It isn’t a case of holding the film over for the American market. The Marvel films demolish the box office in the United States and IF the new film opens around the globe before the U.S and becomes available on DVD and Blu-Ray BEFORE the film opens in the U.S, then Disney and Marvel’s revenue will take a massive nosedive. And the film is due for release two weeks after ‘Halloween Kills‘ so its fortunes don’t bode too well.
With almost all of the summer film fare being pushed back until next year and the current state of the epidemic looking like it’s here to stay for a while longer yet, I find myself looking at the probability that the big releases won’t see the inside of a cinema until next year when it will be much safer (hopefully). It pains me to say it but I would rather the studios come out and pull the remainder of their releases until the world has a better handle on the situation. It isn’t the studios I feel sorry for though, however. It is the employees of movie theatres around the world that will find themselves out of work that has my sympathies. It isn’t their fault that this situation has hit the world in the way that it has. But it is these poor people that depend on their jobs for their livelihoods that are the innocent and overlooked victims in all this. There should be something put in place for these people in the industry as there should be something in place for everyone that has been affected during this crisis. We, the audience take these people for granted every time we visit a movie theatre. We really shouldn’t. Because WHEN not IF the theatres finally reopen, these people probably won’t be there selling us our tickets. They won’t be selling us our popcorn or our drinks or our hotdogs and nachos. There will be new people in place while the staff we have come to know and ignore every time we visit will be looking for a new job or will be claiming unemployment.
On the other hand, of course, would it be beneficial to cancel the movie year entirely? Despite what I think and the evidence supporting me, the virus COULD vanish as quickly as it hit. I don’t think it will but what if? What if suddenly the virus is gone? What if the theatres are okay to reopen but there is nothing new that can fill the screens? What if the films that have pushed back to later this year are suddenly free to open once more? It is a classic case of what-if and there is no right or wrong answer to solve the problem. Either direction could lead to the wrong decision being implemented. But with the way things are right now, I’m leaning towards canceling what remains of the movie release calendar and pressing the reset button from January 1st, 2021.
Assuming of course that it is safe to do so.
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.
Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!