Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is the latest Hollywood blockbuster to have its release date delayed.
The Warner Bros sci-fi epic featuring a star-studded cast including Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya was due for release in December.
The premiere has now been pushed back to October 2021, according to Variety.
Warner Bros has also delayed The Batman, now due in March 2022, but the company has brought forward Matrix 4 to December 2021.
The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson, was set for release on 1 October 2021, so would have clashed with the new release date for Dune.
The Matrix 4 was originally due out in May this year but was postponed to April 2022. It’s now coming just over three months earlier, taking the slot intended for Black Adam, the DC Comics movie starring Dwayne Johnson.
That film has been taken off the schedule altogether, as has Minecraft: The Movie, which was due to open in March next year.
Moving The Matrix 4 to December next year will also allow The Batman to hold the blockbuster limelight the following spring.
The Keanu Reeves action/sci-fi franchise is also thought to have completed most of its shooting before the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the world’s movie production, including The Batman.
The Batman re-started principal photography at the start of September but had to shut down again when a member of the production team tested positive for Covid-19.
Some media outlets reported it was Robert Pattinson, although that has never been confirmed.
Hollywood studios have been deterred from putting out their major releases due to the pandemic but cinema chains had been banking on these films to draw back audiences.
Are cinemas shutting down?
Cineworld has confirmed plans to temporarily close its theatres in the UK and US due to a lack of new releases. The Regal chain followed suit, while Odeon and Vue have shared their concerns over the situation.
The Odeon will open a quarter of its cinemas only at weekends.
The changes announced by Odeon and Cineworld come after the release of the new James Bond film was delayed again.
The premiere of No Time To Die had already been moved from April to November because of the pandemic.
The film has now been further delayed until 2 April 2021 “in order to be seen by a worldwide theatrical audience”, a statement on the film’s website said.
Robert Mitchell, director of theatrical insights at Gower Street Analytics, said: “Bond was really the one that UK exhibitors were really relying on more than any.”
The film’s star Daniel Craig told Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show that “this thing is just bigger than all of us”.
“We want to release the movie at the same time all around the world and this isn’t the right time. So fingers crossed 2 April is going to be our date.”
Meanwhile the British Film Institute (BFI) has said it is “deeply concerned” about the challenges facing the cinema industry.
Ben Roberts, the BFI’s chief executive, warned the impact of the release date delays and closures would be felt across the whole sector.
He added: “The BFI will continue to work with the distribution and exhibition sector over this difficult time.
“However, many cinemas across the UK are still open and welcoming audiences. The government-backed Culture Recovery Fund is giving vital support to struggling independent cinemas in England.”
Mr Roberts reminded customers independent films are still being released in cinemas.
Film producer Rebecca O’Brien, known best for her collaborations with director Ken Loach, told Radio 4’s Today programme she thought Cineworld’s decision to close its screens and put at risk the jobs of 5,500 employees in the UK alone was a “cynical” move.
“They demonstrate here that they don’t have the best duty of care to their employees and that they don’t really care,” she added.
“The cinemas that are open have made it very possible [for audiences to return] and cinemas shouldn’t just be going for the fast buck with the Bonds.”
It is hoped that the Cineworld cinemas will be able to reopen next year, with staff being asked to accept redundancy in the hope of rejoining the company when theatres open again.
Some other delayed movies
- Soul – Pixar’s new animated film about a jazz player separated from his soul was pushed back from June 19 to November 20.
- Wonder Woman 1984 – The sequel to the 2017 hit has moved from June to August to October to Christmas.
- Black Widow – The Marvel movie was meant to be released in May and was pushed to November before being delayed to 7 May 2021.
- Eternals – Another Marvel film which was supposed to hit cinemas in November, then February, is now opening on 5 November 2021.
- Top Gun: Maverick – The sequel to 1986’s Top Gun was due on 24 June before being delayed until 23 December and now it’s due on 2 July 2021.
- Ghostbusters: Afterlife – The return of the Ghostbusters was supposed to take place on 10 July but has now moved to 5 March 2021.
Hollywood had hoped Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Tenet would entice customers back into cinemas after months of closures.
Cineworld chief executive Mooky Greidinger said it had been “very successful internationally and the movie will reach something like $300m gross in the international market… but I would say also the studios have their side of the story, the investment today of the movies is huge”.
Mr Greidinger also pointed to the fact that cinemas in Los Angeles and New York, the two biggest movie-going markets in the US, remain largely closed due to the pandemic, putting studios off releasing films.