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 theaters.
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.
The French Dispatch
Wes Anderson's "love letter to journalists" The French Dispatch has officially been moved to October 16. The film — which boasts a cast including Frances McDormand, Elisabeth Moss, Jeffrey Wright, and Timothée Chalamet in a bathtub — was originally set to debut July 24, making it one of the most highly-anticipated films of summer 2020. Instead, it will join the legions of other movies debuting when the leaves start to change. At least it gives us time to catch up on all the real-life journalists being depicted in the film, and finish our Wes Anderson summer reading list.
No Time to Die
Originally scheduled to hit theaters 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.
Night of Too Many Stars: America Unites for Autism Programs
Even good causes aren't taking a chance with coronavirus. The star-studded charity event, Night of Too Many Stars: America Unites for Autism Programs, has been canceled in light of the pandemic. Slated to air live on HBO on April 16, the show was to feature standup acts from up-and-coming comedians as well as the greats; former TV host and comedian John Stewart was even supposed to make a rare return to the stage. Thanks a lot, COVID-19.
Sonic the Hedgehog
After being previously delayed due to the public outcry over the titular character's animation design, Sonic the Hedgehog was not released in China in tandem with its Valentine's Day premiere in the States.
"Due to the current coronavirus situation, the China release date of the film Sonic the Hedgehog will be postponed, and we will re-announce the new release date at a later time," Paramount Pictures' China office announced in a statement. "Sonic will only be slowing down his pace temporarily, and we look forward to bringing him zooming onto the big screen in China once it is appropriate to do so."
This comedy film starred Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin as two friends and biking partners whose relationship is threatened by personal discoveries made on the road. While it premiered at Sundance last year, The Climb was set it hit theaters this July — but that's not happening anymore.
A Quiet Place Part II
The sequel to the creepy 2018 thriller starring real-life couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski has officially been delayed because of the coronavirus. Part II would continue the silent but deadly journey of the Abbotts through their monster-hunted world, but fans will just have to wait to see how this story plays out because Paramount Pictures is putting its release on hold.
Director and star Krasinski shared a statement about the delay on Twitter. "One of the things I’m most proud of is that people have said our movie is one you have to see all together," he wrote. "Well due to the ever-changing circumstances of what’s going on in the world around us, now is clearly not the right time to do that. As insanely excited as we are for all of you to see this movie .. I’m gonna wait to release the film till we CAN all see it together! So here’s to our group movie date! See you soon!”
The ninth and penultimate installment in the beloved action franchise has now been pushed back an entire year, set to premiere in theaters on April 20, 2021. The new date was supposed to be the debut of the final film, but Fast and Furious fans will have to return to theaters in 2022 to find out what happens to the ragtag band of friends. Fortunately, 2022 will not be the end of the franchise as we know it; Fast and Furious will likely continue with endless spinoff films.
After much hesitation, Disney decided to also indefinitely delay Black Widow's May 1 premiere. The film mark's Scarlett Johansson's last hurrah as the ginger Avenger; it features a time jump after her character's noble death in 2019's Avengers: Endgame.
Most devastating could be the now-canceled 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 budget to match), the new movie was designed specifically with Chinese audiences in mind. Unfortunately, the project's premiere has now been delayed indefinitely. When it will hit theaters, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed to CNBC, no one knows.
Wonder Woman 1984
If you're anything like me, you were probably eagerly anticipating Chris Pine's return to the big screen as the beloved hero Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman 1984 — but you're going to have to wait a few more months. The summer blockbuster starring Gal Gadot has been pushed back to August 14, with executives keeping their fingers cross that the virus will have cleared out by then.
In the Heights
Lin Manuel-Miranda's colorful Bronx tale won't be playing out in theaters anytime soon, either. The film, an adaptation of the original Broadway musical, has been postponed indefinitely.
The timing for Janelle Monae's new horror flick just isn't right considering the current pandemic. The slavery-based horror movie was originally set to release in theaters on April 24, but its new premiere date is unknown.
Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun: Maverick, a sequel 30 years in the making, has moved its worldwide premiere to December 23, 2020 to ensure that it gets the reception that Paramount believes that it deserves.
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 theaters en masse after the global panic quiets — whenever that is.
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.