Long gone are the memories of movie trailers promising new films every month, replaced instead by vague delayed release dates or promises of at-home digital releases. COVID-19 has ground much of the world to a halt, and the movie production industry is no exception.
Movies such as “Antebellum,” “Mulan” and “Bill and Ted Face the Music,” which were all originally supposed to premiere in theatres, are now offered as at-home streaming options instead.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros and Ingenious Media decided to release “Tenet” and “Unhinged” in theatres, albeit with significant delays. However, box office numbers weren’t as high as expected, especially in the United States.
While these delays and changes may seem significant, the impact COVID-19 has had on the movie industry may not be fully realized until next year. For many movies that were mid-production when the pandemic hit, the impacts were drastic.
James Cameron’s “Avatar 2,” the sequel to the record-breaking “Avatar,” was originally slated to be released in December of 2021.
“As many of you are aware, due to COVID-19, we were forced into an unexpected lengthy delay in starting the live-action filming we are currently doing in New Zealand,” Cameron wrote in a note to fans on Twitter. “What most of you likely do not know is that the pandemic is still preventing us from being allowed to recommence most of our virtual production work on stages in Los Angeles. That work is just as critical to the films as the live-action work.”
Cameron said that the movie was pushed back a full year to December of 2022.
However, some production companies were able to continue filming movies despite COVID-19. “Malcolm & Marie,” starring John David Washington and Zendaya, was able to both start and finish production during the pandemic, all while maintaining social distancing regulations. Using a small cast and crew, 14-day quarantines and constant testing, director Sam Levinson put the movie together, creating a set in a house on 33 acres of property.
However, for many bigger blockbuster movies, this simply wasn’t possible.
The Marvel franchise was also set back heavily as a whole, with “Black Widow,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” all being pushed back significantly from their original release dates.
Other notable movies with major delays include “The Matrix 4” (which was pushed back from May 21, 2021 to April 1, 2022), “Wonder Woman 1984” (June 5, 2020 to Dec. 25, 2020) and the next trilogy in the “Star Wars” franchise, which was pushed back with no specified release date.
While 2020 is undoubtedly rock bottom as far as in-person ticket sales go, 2021 might not be the improvement movie-goers are hoping for. Even if there is a vaccine by the end of the year, delays in production could lead to a world with a severe lack of blockbuster movies until at least 2022.