Lights, Camera – DELAYED

by Aaron Davidson

OKLAHOMA CITY – COVID-19, more commonly known as the Coronavirus, is impacting Hollywood. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the origins of the virus, check out this ENN article by student journalist Megan Brown who was working in China as it began to spread.  

The entertainment industry is slowly grinding to a halt as sports, movies and gatherings are being canceled or postponed.  

On March 4, the new James Bond movie ‘No Time to Die’, which was originally slated to release April 10th, was pushed back 6 months to a new November 25th release date. 

This delay led to immediate speculation between critics and journalists alike about what movies would be next in line to be pushed back. 

The first big announcement to rattle Hollywood came when actor Tom Hanks announced to the world through an Instagram post that he and his wife Rita Wilson tested positive for the coronavirus.

The next morning, A Quiet Place director John Krasinski announced that the highly anticipated Part 2 will be delayed indefinitely. That announcement came just days before its March 20th release date. 

Within minutes of that announcement, Universal reported Fast and Furious 9 would be delayed a full year from May 22 to April 2021.

A full year is a long time to delay a movie, even with the virus going around now, so I started to wonder why Universal felt it was necessary to have such a major delay. After looking at some numbers, I realized the Fast and Furious franchise is very popular in Asia, specifically China, probably even more popular there than in the United States.

The franchise’s seventh iteration was released in 2015.  “Furious 7” is currently the 8th highest grossing movie of all time worldwide. The movie officially ended its global box office run with $1.516 Billion. 

The film’s American gross equaled just $353 million, which means 76% of the movie’s gross came from foreign markets. For example, in China, the film took in $390 million.  Along the same lines, 2017’s The Fate of the Furious made 81% of its gross overseas, with $392 Million in China. 

Based on these numbers, it appears the lengthy delays are tailored to ensure the virus has fully run its course in countries like China, where it first appeared.  

Disney was the next movie maker to pull back at the box office.  Disney pulled three major releases from their lineup, ‘Mulan,’ ‘The New Mutants’ and ‘Antlers’ were all delayed indefinitely due to concern from COVID-19. 

The delayed release of the live-action remake of the Disney Classic Mulan seemed inevitable even before the other postponements were announced.  

The original animated Mulan was a tale set in China and the live-action remake is bringing even more authentic Chinese culture and history to the big screen. The remake removes many classic songs and the fan-favorite character Mushu. These changes are making way for less fantastical scenes and characters which are more closely aligned with Chinese history and mythology.  

Clearly, Disney would want to see a strong opening in China and that cannot happen if people are under quarantine.

What’s next?  

It is truly hard to say what will happen next as no one really knows what will happen with the coronavirus; but right now as far as big releases go I think all eyes are on Black Widow to see if it can keep its original release date.  Black Widow’s May 1 premiere is supposed to be the kick off to “Phase 4” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

With more people staying home, there is opportunity for growth in the streaming markets.

Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, to name a few, all have millions of monthly subscribers watching their exclusive movies and tv shows.  There is debate among some Hollywood watchers as to whether new movies will see a streaming release rather than a theatrical release.

Why would a studio choose a streaming service rather than just wait?  One word. Piracy.  

If a movie which is ready for the theaters is pirated and released online companies risk losing a lot of money.  A controlled release through a contract with a streaming service could help recoup some of their theatrical release losses.

However, a streaming debut is less likely for big movies such as No Time to Die and Fast and the Furious which already have new release dates.

The one major motion picture you have the best chance of seeing at home is New Mutants.

This is one film that cannot seem to catch a break.  It was originally slated to release all the way back in April of 2018 when executives pushed back its release almost a full year. 

New Mutants’s next release date was February 2019 when the studio delayed it once again to make room for Dark Phoenix.  The next release date was August 2019. That date was moved after the Disney-Fox acquisition.  

Disney gave New Mutants an April 3, 2020 release date and promised it would finally hit theaters.  The studio even released a new trailer in January 2020, more than two years after the first one. 

With the current health crisis, now might be a good time to release New Mutants on Hulu or Disney Plus.  A theatrical release does not seem possible for this movie. Which would be a sad end for the Fox X-Men run and director Josh Boone.  

Full List of Delayed Movies:

No Time to Die – Original Release Date: April 10th – New Release Date: November 25th

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway – Original Release Date: April 3 – New Release Date: August 7th

A Quiet Place Part 2 – Original Release Date: March 20th – New Release Date: NA

Fast 9 – Original Release Date: May 22 – New Release Date: April 2 2021

Mulan – Original Release Date: March 27th – New Release Date: NA

The New Mutants – Original Release Date: April 3 – New Release Date: NA

Antlers – Original Release Date: April 17 – New Release Date: NA

Blue Story – Original Release Date: March 20th – New Release Date: NA

The Lovebirds – Original Release Date: April 3 – New Release Date: NA

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