Studios Try to Outrun Coronavirus By Kicking Blockbusters Down the Road
For months, potential blockbusters like “No Time to Die”, “Black Widow” and “Fast & Furious 9” have given up their planned theatrical releases and then given them up again and again.
There wasn't a week in 2020 that at least one big movie wasn't delayed. And for the most part, moving a tent pole can set off a chain reaction, as it did when the final installment of Bond was moved to the date previously occupied by "F9" and "Dune" to be "Wonder Woman." "Escape 1984" around Christmas, moved to October next, causing "The Batman" to fall behind by 2022. Nonetheless, the pandemic continues in many places, and after the lackluster results for Christopher Nolan's “Tenet,” there was a prospect of going back to the cinema in a film March. The studios have already pushed the debuts of individual films several times, a trend that could continue into the new year - especially as potential vaccines go through the approval process.
"This is the frustration of a pandemic. Nature is in control in many ways," said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Box Office Pro.
That got the studios in trouble and tried to figure out a way to escape a pandemic that could last months or even years. And Hollywood companies are scared of opening very expensive films if it's unclear whether there are large markets, from Europe to Asia to parts of the US, where the virus seems to be under control today, in the weeks leading up to their final release ready to release a movie could see an increase. It's an issue that has upset everything from "Tenet" to "Mulan", films that were originally intended to usher in a return to the cinema but either didn't get the box office going again or were banned to streaming services when the coronavirus didn't Showed signs of favor. This is the new reality that studios and exhibitors are waking up to - coronavirus is a fact indefinitely - and that makes planning very difficult indeed.
"Just because 2020 ends doesn't mean the problems we are facing now will go away," Robbins said. "You have to keep moving the goal post because of this unpredictability."
When exactly these films will have their premiere is still a question without a satisfactory answer. To stay one step ahead of the virus, the studios continue to claim seemingly arbitrary times on the release calendar in hopes that the pandemic will soon go away. The holiday season looks easy: "Wonder Woman 1984" on Christmas Day is the only possible blockbuster slated for 2020, and there is a chance that this could change soon. But in early 2021 it looks oddly stacked, with "The King's Men", "Ghostbusters: Afterlife", Camila Cabello's "Cinderella" and "Soprano's" prequel "The Many Saints of Newark" among the buoyant titles for the first quarter of the year. "No Time to Die" is slated to open in April and "F9" is slated for the Memorial Day weekend in May.
However, there is no telling when the box office will return to normal, and given the current state of the pandemic, it is hard to imagine that many films would stick to their hastily chosen “new” release dates. In addition, it is not clear to health professionals when an effective vaccine will be widely available - it could be late 2021 before most of the country is vaccinated, and some customers may be wary of returning to theaters until that milestone is reached.
Meeting release dates, even if they are unlikely to be met, is "an important message the studios need to send and say," We are determined to get movies out in theaters, "said Robbins.
In addition to showing solidarity with the theaters that rely on fresh and exciting produce from the studios to survive, putting flags on the calendar is vital for Hollywood gamers. Studios have to make some tough decisions about when to launch their films in any climate. Finding the perfect release date for a movie - especially movies with a budget over $ 100 million that requires massive ticket sales to make a profit - requires an extra level of wizardry during a pandemic. The sales directors responsible for a film's theatrical release remain optimistic that there will be a significant resumption of cinema going into the second quarter of 2021.
Some box office analysts are skeptical of the possibility of a great return to the cinema by next spring.
"Large marketing campaigns take a lot of planning and the pandemic won't magically change on January 1st," said Peter Csathy, chairman of Creatv Media, a media and entertainment consultancy. "People think 2022 is more realistic."
Big studios, especially Disney, Warner Bros., and Universal, have more leverage in setting the cultural agenda. Few would want to compete against gigantic franchise companies like Jurassic World, Marvel or James Bond. In this way, smaller studios can search for openings in the calendar. But no trader is immune to the carnage; Everyone finds out together when rivals move throughout their film franchise. Planning can feel like a high-stakes game with musical chairs. When the music stops - or a studio massively reworks the upcoming plan again - the rivals try to find a chair or risk having to go back to the drawing board.
For the theaters, the never-ending wave of delays only upsets their plans to welcome visitors again. Without blockbuster-level films, exhibitors will struggle to sell tickets. But until major US markets like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco reopen, studios probably won't be sure of unveiling top-class films - even those with seemingly fixed release dates.
"The studios plant dates just to make a claim, but they put a claim down at a time when theaters are wondering if they have a future," said Csathy. "It's not an intentional false hope, but it's certainly wishful thinking and Hollywood optimism."
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