Slow roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines has prompted Hollywood to postpone potential blockbusters to mid-summer or later. Numerous films are on the release calendar for early 2021, but cases of the virus in many areas in the United States and across the world are higher than ever.
Analysts believe that getting back to the movies in any normal fashion seens as unrealistic today, as it did in March 2020 when cinemas across the world rolled down their shutters. However, Hollywood players will continue to take different approaches to operating and finding the best way to reach audiences during the pandemic. Disney, Warner Bros. and Universal appear more primed to ride out the next few months with contingency plans that range from day-and-date releases on streaming services to accelerated premium video-on-demand windows. Sony and Paramount will probably continue to delay release dates or sell their movies to platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.
January to March is a slow period for movies and not many cinematic big names are released during this three-month slumber. From May onwards, there would be the release of Black Widow (May 7), Godzilla vs. Kong (May 21), Ryan Reynolds’ Free Guy (May 21), Infinite (May 28), and Disney’s Cruella (May 28). But don’t get your hopes too high as these titles are expected to shift as well if conditions don’t improve in the next month or so.
There are rumors that Scarlett Johansson-led Marvel adventure Black Widow may follow in the steps of fellow studio release Raya and the Last Dragon, which is premiering concurrently in theatres and on Disney Plus for a premium price. For any movie, plans would be fluid as long as the pandemic remains rampant. Analysts point out that what doesn’t change is the fact that its insurmountably more challenging for a film the size and scale of Black Widow to become profitable without a traditional theatrical window.
Rival studios were gobsmacked at Warner Bros’. decision to send Wonder Woman 1984, The Suicide Squad, Dune and other mega-budgeted films to HBO Max. It may boast subscriptions for HBO Max, but its ambiguous if additional revenue will paper over the loss of ticket sales. Experts believe mid-budget movies can enjoy a more compelling return on investment through premium video-on-demand since they require transactions on individual titles.