CORONAVIRUS HAS PUSHED THE BOX OFFICE TO SUDDEN DEATH FOR 2020 AND 2021 RELEASES

The coronavirus pandemic has been roaring through the entire world with such ferocity that there is no stoppage of its presence. Everyone has been making numerous precautions and attempts to stay quarantined or isolated for as long as possible, with businesses and corporations shutting down for quite some time. Movie theaters are closed, and some releases are going straight to VOD for everyone to view at their homes. The pushing back of movie releases in 2020 has procured severe dilemmas for companies and their future releases pouring in 2021.

Nearly every single movie that was intended to be released for the months of March, April or May (this year) have been released directly to streaming services or just outright delayed. A Quiet Place Part 2, Mulan, Fast and Furious 9, Black Widow, No Time to Die, and more have indubitably suffered from these effects. The highest-grossing film of the year, Bad Boys for Life, did not even crack over 500 million dollars when at least one release by now (based of the performance of the past few years) would have been around one billion dollars (or more). Companies that produce movies are hard-pressed to release films in the future and remain optimistic about the remainder of the summer and fall for this year. The release dates are in a huge limbo due to the coronavirus’s consequences on every country and production for films coming in 2021 are taking a blow for safety reasons. In layman’s terms, everyone is hoping for some type of miracle later this year to squeeze their monster films in and even then, that will still financially screw over many releases slated for 2021.

The other problem is next year is overstuffed with one too many blockbusters for an average person to attend. Cinderella, Matrix 4, John Wick 4, Fast and Furious 9 (moved to April 2021), four Marvel Cinematic Universe flicks (Shang-Chi, Doctor Strange 2, Thor 4 and Spider-Man 3), The Batman, Indiana Jones 6, Mission Impossible 7, The Suicide Squad, Fantastic Beasts 3, Jurassic World: Dominion, and Avatar 2. There’s even the possibility more films will get thrown into that year but looking by all the titles listed, every studio will be inevitably disrupted unless they continue to delay or battle it out with each impending blockbuster released.

It’s a complete devastation as there’s no real solution right now other than to wait it out and see if the impact of coronavirus will settle down. China opened up their theaters as many were recovering, but quickly closed their theaters up again due to another wave of the virus or a plain acknowledgement that no one in the world is going to a movie theater in these times. Releasing films post-summer may work, but they run the risk of the theatrical industry shutting down again.

The only company that will be “fine” due to external circumstances this year (and arguably next year) is Disney. They unloaded all their juggernauts last year, making a whopping 13.2 billion dollars from the box office and that doesn’t even factor in how it will allow their streaming service, Disney+, to continue to grow with those respective titles. All of us who said they should have released Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker (because of its poor performance as a finale to a 40-year trilogy) this year were (somewhat) wrong. Of course, they will still suffer by delaying their own films and production sets being closed, but their untouchable performance last year demonstrates their ability to thrive in times like this.

Warner Brothers, Universal, Sony and the rest were supposed to bring their biggies this year and next, but now they’re threatened severely and will need to hope for their own miracles in terms of marketability, profitability and reliability in releasing titles soon. Otherwise, they’ll be grasping for survivability in these next several months coming.

It’s terrible timing that a pandemic had to arise in the worst part of the year. Anticipation was locked and loaded, and many were bracing for the new releases coming including this writer. Due to its arrival, we must all stay safe and cautioned for the time being, grasping onto hope and believing this pandemic will end before the end of 2020. The future of film releases is in jeopardy for the time being, and we must learn to cope with this reality. As Mr. Stephen King once said, “Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.”[1]


[1] Line stamped on the poster from 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption

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