Hollywood was watching and waiting for the dominoes to start to fall. With Christopher Nolan poised to be the saviour of the summer box office, Warner Bros. held onto the original “Tenet” release date of July 17 as long as it could. Until it couldn’t.
And theater chains around the country were trying to ramp up to open in time with costly new safety protocols in place. While some 350 drive-ins have been pulling customers, reopened indoor cinemas haven’t been doing so well. As studios and theaters alike tracked the rise of COVID cases this week, Warner Bros. Pictures chairman Toby Emmerich had little wriggle room left after leaving the date off. He had to make the decision, knowing that many theaters in key markets like Los Angeles and New York might not be back in time. Costly marketing pushes had to get started.
So inevitably, it seems, he moved the date for “Tenet” back to July 31. (Will that be firm? Nobody knows.) While the studio had hoped to hold off the announcement of the move of Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman 1984” from August 14 to October 2, it turned out to be impossible, as artwork was leaking; the studio made the announcement via social media.
— Wonder Woman (@WonderWomanFilm) June 12, 2020
After Warners blinked, new indie distributor Solstice quickly moved its first release, Russell Crowe thriller “Unhinged,” back from its planned July 1 release date to July 10. Sony Pictures Classics is hoping to open their long-awaited comedy “The Climb” on July 17.
That makes the first major tentpole to open this summer Disney’s live-action “Mulan,” which is still opening July 24 according to this week’s Disney release schedule (amid other changes). Disney is widely expected to push the family-friendly branded title to Disney+ in order to lure subscribers.
Paramount is sitting on August 4 with family sequel “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run,” but had been waiting to see where “Tenet” would wind up.
Universal Pictures wasted no time moving away from “Wonder Woman 1984” on October 2, postponing Amblin Entertainment’s “BIOS” to wide release on Friday April 16, 2021.
After trying to reassure Warner Bros. that some 90 percent of global theaters would get up and running in time for “Tenet,” the National Association of Theater Owners bowed to reality on Friday, thanking the studio for supplying a Nolan classic, the 10th-anniversary re-release of “Inception,” to fill in for two weeks ahead of the Nolan time-travel thriller “Tenet.”
“We are excited that our partners at Warner Bros. will offer a new generation of film fans the opportunity to enjoy ‘Inception’ the way it was originally intended to be seen — on the big screen,” stated NATO. “Over these last months we have been keeping Warner Bros. closely informed of our work towards reopening our theaters in accordance with governmental health and safety requirements, and we are looking forward to audiences enjoying ‘Tenet ‘ in our theaters all around the world on July 31.”
Five more changes in the Warners lineup:
“Witches” moves from October 9, 2020 to no date at all.
“Godzilla vs Kong” moves from November 20, 2020 to May 21, 2021.
“Tom & Jerry” moves from December 23, 2020 to March 3, 2021.
New Line will release an untitled horror movie on June 6, 2021.
The untitled “Matrix” movie moves from May 21, 2021 to April 4, 2022.
And on an ominous note, an “untitled Warner Bros. event movie” dated on October 16, 2020 has been removed from the schedule. If enough theaters go out of business around the globe due to the economic impact of the pandemic in an increasingly digital world, there may not be enough box office to justify the $200-million budgets that event movies cost.
Enjoy them while they last.