Premieres reschedule, cinemas close, popcorn goes cold…  What’s going on?

9th October 2020

Some months ago, we were dealt a triple blow – not only were we struck by a pandemic, we were also locked away in our homes and—cinemas closed down!

It seems that it was only yesterday when they reopened just so they could start shutting down again and amid all the confusion, it would make sense to explain what the hell is going on and whether or not we can see anything on the big screen. Well, the answer is simple – we can. Just not everything, and not everywhere, to paraphrase a very well-known marketing slogan by an unnamed telecommunications giant…

What’s closing?

Cineworld, one of the biggest cinema chains in the entire world, is shutting its doors to the public in the UK and US, making it the biggest closure amid the fears of the second wave and, quite frankly, lack of big new movies to show. It comes after the news of a massive layoffs in the United States, where the chain had already sacked 45.000 people, now putting 5.500 UK folk at risk of losing their jobs, too. Cineworld accounts for a third of all of the UK’s box-office, so the losses are truly devastating.

Picturehouse also closed – at least for now, ‘temporarily’ – all of its branches. Like with Cineworld, a potential supply of new Hollywood movies will be the key in reversing this decision. Socially-distanced cinemas had so far gone around 4 months (or more) without any profits and at the moment, they cannot survive without new movies to screen, as generating interest in old favorites and cult classics seems to be a perilous endeavour.

    Odeon will stay mostly open, but a staggering quarter of its cinemas will only be open over the weekends in an attempt to cut the costs and limit the loss of revenue. Once again, lack of new releases has been cited as the major reasons for closures.

 What’s open?

Vue – UK’s biggest chain – had remained quiet on any potential lockdowns. Its chief executive, Tim Richards, says “We will survive, we just need movies”, albeit he did add that they’ve been dealt a big blow and although they will prevent any layoffs, they actually have no new movies to screen, Vue is likely to follow in Cineworld’s footsteps.

While the Curzon, Everyman and Rich Mix – as well as a number of smaller, independent cinemas and drive-ins – will remain open, for the time being. The government bailout definitely helped, but it is not just what they solely rely on during these uncertain times. A lot of these generate profits from smaller, independent movies (Curzon even co-produces some), as well as older, renowned features – but all of these had been affected by the loss of revenue generated by some of the biggest movies. The saving grace for those is that unlike the mainstream chains, they don’t fully rely on Hollywood blockbusters, but how long can they go on completely without those?

How should the cinemas fight the lack of mainstream big studio releases?

It’s simple – buy and distribute independent smaller  films. This is the first suggestion off the top of our heads – think about it! Indie films are being produced ALL THE FREAKING TIME. They are often brilliant, gripping, driven by the story and not just special effects. When, if not now, is the time to show those? These could be the cheapest acquisitions that could turn big profits simply because of their low cost. There’s never been more space for these films on the big screen than now, with empty slots begging to be filled by these features. This is a chance to showcase talent and survive without relying on the big studios and Hollywood. If these were the only films playing, then by default, they would draw people to the cinema simply because those small titles would be the only available options. Come on, we can’t be the only ones thinking about it, right! Instead of Shudder buying movies like ‘Host’, they could just play for the big audience and help the multiplexes in their fight for survival!

Just sayin’. Ball’s in your court, distributors!

 What has been moved?

Virtually, all of the major films had been delayed till next year – or, in some cases, further notice. Here is a list of the biggest films that were initially slated to open this year, but were moved in the aftermath of Covid-19 and the premiere of ‘Tenet’. Warner’s biggest premiere of the year – next to ‘Wonder Woman 1984′, who also got moved – that came from Christopher Nolan and is so far one of the best reviewed movies of the year had brought in (as of now) a somewhat disappointing 307 million dollars against its USD 200 million budget. For Tenet to be considered a financial success, the film needs to make around 450 million worldwide and in spite of still being in a position to recoup that additional 150 million, its box-office performance scared the other studios (as well as Warner themselves) enough to see all of their films rescheduled till 2021. Of all films that were meant to come post-Tenet, the biggest sucker punch to British cinemas has to be the newest Bond film – ‘No Time To Die’. Daniel Craig’s last outing as the Agent 007 was pulled right from under our noses a month before it’s November premiere. That move started a domino effect that even saw some 2021 films moved by A YEAR!

 

As it looks right now, UK’s (as well as the case is for the US) first big premiere is going to be Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Death on the Nile’ – sequel to his ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, adapted from Agatha Christie’s novels of the same name. Set for October the 9th, the film is now getting a release this December 18th— a spot previously occupied by Denis Villenueve’s ‘Dune’ with Timothy Chalamet, now moved to October 2021. Second biggest premiere is a slightly lesser known  – Ryan Reynolds starring ‘Free Guy’, which is a video game-inspired film that’s been moved from July 3rd to December 11th and at the moment, not facing any big competitors.

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ is still on schedule, but if we are to believe Patty Jenkins suggestions and Warner rescheduling 4 films from 2020 to 2021 just within the last 2 weeks… then there is no need to hold our breath for the highly anticipated sequel about the biggest female superhero.

Here is what the list looks like right now:

Death on the Nile – initially slated for October 9, 2020; moved to December 18, 2020

Wonder Woman 1984 – initially slated for June 5 2020; moved to December 25, 2020 –

No Time To Die – initially slated for April 10, 2020; moved to November 20, 2020; finally delayed till April 2, 2021

Black Widow – initially slated for May 11, 2020; moved to May 7, 2021

Dune – initially slated for December 18, 2020; moved to October 1, 2021

Fast & Furious 9 – initially slated for May 22, 2020; moved to April 2, 2021

The Batman – initially slated for June 5, 2021; moved to March 4, 2022

A Quiet Place II – initially slated for March 8, 2020; moved to April 23, 2021

Candyman – initially slated for June 12, 2020; moved to 2021 (TBD)

The French Dispatch – initially slated for July 24, 2020; first moved to October 16, 2020 – now DELAYED INDEFINITELY

Ghostbuster: Afterlife – initially slated for July 10, 2020; moved to March 5, 2021

Cruella – initially slated for December 23, 2020; moved to May 28, 2021

Jungle Cruise – initially slated for July 24, 2020; moved to July 30, 2021

Tom & Jerry (live action) – initially slated for December 23, 2020; moved to March 5, 2021

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – initially slated for May 7, 2021; moved to May 27, 2022

Marvel’s The Eternals – initially slated for November 6, 2020; moved to February 12, 2021

Godzilla vs. Kong – initially slated for November 20, 2020; moved to May 21, 2021

Halloween Kills & Halloween Ends – initially slated for October 16, 2020 and October 15, 2021 (respectively); moved to October 14, 2021 and October 15, 2022 (also, respectively)

Jurassic World: Dominion – initially slated for June 11, 2021; moved to June 10, 2022

Top Gun: Maverick – initially slated for June 24, 2020; moved to July 2, 2021

The King’s Man – initially slated for September 18, 2020; moved to February 12, 2021

Morbius – initially slated for July 31, 2020; moved to March 19, 2021

Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8 – initially slated for July 23rd, 2021 and August 5, 2022 (respectively); moved to November 19, 2021 and November 4, 2022 (also, respectively)

The Matrix 4 – initially slated for May 21, 2021; moved to April 1, 2022

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway – initially slated for August 7, 2020; moved to January 15, 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings – initially slated for February, 2021; moved to July 9, 2021

Uncharted – initially slated for March 5, 2021; moved to August 8, 2021

Venom: Let There Be Carnage – initially slated for October 2, 2020; moved to June 25, 2021

West Side Story – initially slated for December 18, 2020; moved to December 10, 2021

Last Night in Soho – initially slated for September

 

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