Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) in Columbia Pictures’ MORBIUS.
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Sony is trying to put space between Morbius and Ghostbusters and Marvel’s first 2021 release in February and F9: The Fast Saga in April.
We got word last night that Sony has essentially delayed their entire summer 2020 slate as a result of the continuing coronavirus pandemic and related theater closures. Tom Hanks’ Greyhound has been moved from June 12 to parts unknown. Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway is now the first movie to be delayed twice due to this crisis, moving from April 3 to August 7 to now January 15, 2021. Kevin Hart’s Fatherhood was actually moved up from 01/15/21 to October 23, 2020, and an untitled Sony/Marvel flick dated for October 8, 2021 is now “To be determined,” with Uncharted taking that date after vacating March 5, 2021. Oh, and Sony moved both Ghostbusters: Afterlife (originally slated for July 10) and Jared Leto’s Morbious (initially July 31) to March of 2021.
‘Minions The Rise of Gru’
Up until yesterday, the only June/July delay had been Universal’s Minions 2: The Rise of Gru, which was slated for July 3 but was unable to finish post-production due to closures at Illumination’s France-based studios. So unless Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick stays its ground with June 26, Warner Bros. keeps Chris Nolan’s Tenet on July 17 (instead of potentially moving it to Christmas) and Disney doesn’t move Artemis Fowl (May 29), Soul (June 26) and Jungle Cruise (July 24), the 2020 summer movie season won’t start until, at best, August, when Wonder Woman 1984 opens on (as of now) August 14. But the choice by Sony to move their two biggest summer 2020 flicks to the same month is interesting in terms of what it says about next year’s calendar.
Alice in Wonderland
March has been a viable month for big summer-ish movies over the last decade or so. From Alice in Wonderland in 2010 to Logan and Skull Island in 2017, the month has become kind of a pit stop for the pre-summer movie season, spurred by Spring Break, Easter Sunday and other related boosts for potential biggies. Heck, way back in 1990, The Hunt for Red October ($122 million), Pretty Woman ($178 million), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ($135 million) each outgrossed every summer 1990 flick save for Ghost ($217 million). Ditto 2016 where Zootopia ($341 million) and Batman v Superman ($330 million) outgrossed every summer movie save for Captain America: Civil War ($408 million). But just as importantly, Sony wants some distance between two 1600 lbs gorillas on either side of the calendar.
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 24: (L-R) Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Salma Hayek, … [+]
Getty Images for Disney
No, I don’t know if Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is going to meet its February 12, 2021 release date. The production has been delayed, with director Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12 and Just Mercy) self-isolating (while testing negative for CVOD-19) and the MCU flick joining the likes of The Batman and The Matrix 4 as mega-movies in 2021 that might not make their initial release dates. But it’s not like Disney and Marvel are just going to leave that slot empty if they don’t have to. If Shang-Chi doesn’t open in February, I’m guessing Eternals will (and yes, if that happens, then expect Black Widow in early November). Either way, it’s a big Marvel movie Sony’s smaller “biggies” will want to keep their distance.
Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Dom (Vin Diesel) in F9, directed by Justin Lin
And on the other side, we have the April 2, 2021 release of Universal’s F9: The Fast Saga (delayed from May 22, 2020). April has been very kind to the Fast and Furious franchise, with Fast & Furious (a $70 million debut in 2009), Fast Five ($86 million in 2011), Furious 7 ($147 million in 2015) and Fate of the Furious ($99 million in 2017) all dominating the pre-summer season. Yes, I suppose Ghostbusters: Afterlife could have pressed its luck in mid-to-late April, just before the start of the summer (either Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness or whatever Marvel movie is next on-tap in terms of delays). but for now it’s partially about avoiding the two mega-movies in mid-February and early April.
Honestly, I’m a little surprised Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters sequel didn’t aim for Christmas, since it’s presumably the kind of kid-friendly fantasy that could fill the Jumanji or Bumblebee slot alongside either Dune or (if we’re all correct) Tenet as the year-end tentpole fantasy spectacular. But c’est la vie, these are uncharted times and this could be as much about getting as much distance as possible from the coronavirus as picking the absolute perfect release date. With only Candyman, Soul, Top Gun 2, Tenet and Jungle Cruise remaining (among “big” openers) prior to August, Summer 2020 is on the verge of being canceled. That said, 2021 is going to be very crowded. Come what may, Super Bowl 2021 is going to have about 4,071 movie commercials.