With COVID-19 showing no signs of relenting – can we expect to return to the cinema at all in 2021?
Do you remember what it was like going to the cinema? We hoped it wouldn’t happen. We prayed it wouldn’t happen. For a brief moment, it looked like it WOULDN’T happen. But sadly, it is happening. After last year’s disaster movie going wise, we were so looking forward to what we would be given this year instead. Fare such as ‘Fast9‘, ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife‘, ‘Godzilla Vs Kong‘ would be hitting our cinema screens, bringing a massive boost back into our lives and finally giving us something we could look forward to.
COVID-19 has other ideas.
That old favorite, the release date wheel of fortune, that we all hoped was retired ahead of this cinematic year, seems to be going nowhere. Already, ‘Morbius‘ has fallen victim to the wheel, delayed now by SEVEN months from March to October. And now, it seems even that great icon, James Bond 007, cannot beat the wheel.
License To Delay
Although not confirmed as yet and the only information comes our way via a Dutch movie theatre which has apparently been told that it is happening, it appears that the latest Bond adventure ‘No Time To Die‘ will once again be delayed until much later in the year.
The film was due for release back in April of 2020 before COVID threw a giant spanner into the works and forced the film to move to a worldwide release in November of 2020. Theatres around the world remained optimistic that good old 007 would hit the screens and save the day, not only in the movie but for the under-pressure cinemas the world over.
Many chains were banking on Bond to keep their doors open to the public. It wasn’t to be. The film was pushed back again until April of this year, a full twelve months later than planned. This forced the cinema chain Cineworld to shutter its doors, blaming the film’s delay for the decision to close all their sites until further notice. Other theatre chains soon followed suit.
There are now three vaccines to the virus pandemic that is continuing to devastate the world. And the U.K is leading the way in administering vaccinations to everyone in the country. However, a government minister told a Sky News interviewer that everyone in the country would have had their first vaccination by the Autumn. That’s all the way in September! And that is just the first jab. A second, booster injection is required three weeks after the first and even then, it is a further 21 days before the patient is immune to the virus. With that in mind, there is almost no chance that the social distancing restrictions will be removed or even eased.
That means that regardless of the country being inoculated against the virus if theatres were to reopen their doors, there would be a 99% chance that social distancing rules would once more be in force. Cutting down audience sizes again and severely hampering any movie’s chance of earning a decent box office haul. After what happened last year, you can start to believe that the same thing will be happening once more.
It is being rumored that MGM and Universal are starting to tout Bond to streaming sites for the tidy sum of $600million. A figure that every streaming service has balked at. There is also the rumor that Disney is now planning a simultaneous theatrical and PVOD release of the massive Marvel blockbuster ‘Black Widow‘.
It is a case of WHEN and not IF 007 and the rest of last year’s movies once again shift their releases. And, of course, that will cause a domino effect with this year’s blockbuster films. The ones that were already due to open in 2021. I hate to say it but we are in a no more than 50/50 scenario here again. 50% chance of the movies to open as normal this year. 50% chance of the 2021 crop of releases being shunted to 2022 instead.
Streaming ISN’T the answer. But until the world gets a firm grip on COVID, we won’t be seeing any movies at the cinema anytime soon.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/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 where he uses the force frequently!