If you thought the worldwide panic about the latest coronavirus was only complicating your love life and your plans to inspire FOMO at Coachella next month, think again. The anxiety around COVID-19 is further reaching than many initially thought, and its repercussions are playing out on a global scale.
Hollywood is taking an especially huge hit because of the pandemic. COVID-19, which is spread through respiratory droplets or touching contaminated objects, has film companies rethinking their springtime rollouts. The logic is simple: if people are scared of catching coronavirus, they'll try to limit their time in large crowds — which includes opting out of movie premieres at their local theatres.
The wildfire spread of the virus and the accompanying panic couldn't have come at a worse time for the industry. March marks the beginning of blockbuster season, with a stream of exciting new films down the pipelines for audiences to shell out millions to watch. With its most lucrative release season at the mercy of the coronavirus, many films in Hollywood's powerful 2020 lineup could be at risk of underperforming.
No Time to Die
Originally scheduled to hit theatres in April, the release date for Daniel Craig's curtain call as the storied super spy has now been pushed back to November. Though the decision was tough to swallow — you mean to tell me that we have to wait eight months to meet the Black, female Bond? —Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal Pictures made the right call. China is a huge market for the film, and with the coronavirus currently spreading throughout the country at a rapid pace, it's unlikely that MGM and Universal will pull the numbers that they need for the 007 flick if they released it right now.
Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway
The world loves the adventures of Peter Rabbit (voiced by James Corden), but Columbia Pictures Sony Pictures Animation aren't willing to bet against COVID-19. The world premiere of the second chapter in the mischievous rabbit's adventure has been moved to August 7, a full five months after its initial premiere date. Executives at both companies made the move after realizing that most of the first film's viewership came from overseas; without those audiences, the sequel could potentially be a flop.
Most devastating could be the untimely March 27 release date of Disney's live action remake of the 1998 animated film Mulan. Re-vamped with a storyline that is more culturally accurate (and a $200 billion USD budget to match), the new movie was designed specifically with Chinese audiences in mind. Unfortunately, while the project will still premiere domestically at the the end of the month, sources say that Mulan will be released in China whenever the Chinese government gives it the green light. When that will be, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed to CNBC, no one knows.
Thankfully, the coronavirus hasn't thrown off every release schedule in Hollywood.
Films like Black Widow and F9 will stick to their May premieres, and Universal's Trolls World Tour will be moved up to April, filling No Time to Die's slot. No one knows how long COVID-19 will hold people hostage in their homes out of caution, but Hollywood is keeping their fingers crossed that fans of their related franchises will still hit the theatres en masse after the global panic quiets.