Paramount has shaken up its theatrical release schedule. Two anticipated sequels slated for release this fall, “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Jackass Forever,” will instead be released next year, while “Mission: Impossible 7” has been moved from May to November of 2022.
Deadline reported that the move came after Paramount decided the current pandemic conditions would not be ideal for the launch of the tentpoles. It’s the latest sign that the COVID release-date shuffle that has plagued movies for the last year-and-a-half is far from over.
“Top Gun: Maverick,” the first sequel for the 1986 Tom Cruise actioner, was slated for release in June 2020, but that’s been changed several times. Most recently it was set for a pre-Thanksgiving release on November 19.
It is now dated for Memorial Day weekend next May, the most recent slot for another Tom Cruise action film, the seventh installment of “Mission: Impossible.” Now that movie will be released on September 30, 2022.
“Jackass Forever,” the first movie to bear the screwball reality franchise’s name since 2011, will now debut on February 4, instead of October 22 this year.
Shortly after the news broke that “Top Gun” would vacate its pre-Thanksgiving date, Sony moved “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” up a week to November 19.
Last week at CinemaCon, Paramount previewed footage and clips from its upcoming slate, including Cruise’s big stunt from “Mission: Impossible 7” and the first 13 minutes of “Top Gun: Maverick.” The annual gathering of exhibitors and studio executives was painted as an existential necessity for the future health of entertainment, a vision that had no place for day-and-date releases.
Paramount has not announced plans to go that route with these tentpoles. The studio’s most recent plans for “Top Gun” were to release it in November and make it available to stream on Paramount+ 45 days later.
Paramount last month nixed its plans to release the live-action “Clifford the Big Red Dog” on September 17 as well as its Toronto premiere. Deadline cited concerns over the Delta variant as the reason why the studio made that decision.
Paramount, which sold off titles like “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and “The Lovebirds” to Netflix at the start of the pandemic, reportedly turned down inquiries from Apple and Netflix to buy the next “Top Gun” movie. Paramount was reportedly turned off from the idea, due to studio executives’ belief that it had a box office winner. That may be true, but it all depends on when people come back to theaters in full force.
While theaters are opened and studios have begun releasing movies theatrically, the box office has not recovered back to the 2019 status quo. IndieWire’s Tom Brueggemann reported that last weekend’s box office — which saw Nia DaCosta’s “Candyman” in the Number 1 spot with a $22.37 million gross — was part of a four-week rolling average that represented 56 percent of the grosses earned in the same period in 2019. That’s the highest number since mid-July.