Hey there, how has it been?
It’s been a hot minute since I last saw you (and by “hot minute”, I mean “my blog is now an overgrown jungle of weeds”). In that time, the world’s turned topsy-turvy due to the coronavirus, aka COVID-19.
Since this is a movie blog, I’ll recap how it slowly made its way into the world of entertainment, but you can see this trajectory mirrored in industries everywhere. It’s been astonishing to read the headlines everyday and see how the industry (and the world) gradually shifted from a dismissive attitude of “Coronavirus? Pffft, this is a problem only in Asia” to “THE SKY IS FALLING, MUST STOCK UP ON TOILET PAPER!!!” — all in the span of less than two weeks.
(Note: This post only chronicles developments up to 5 July 2020, because the pandemic has lasted way too long to keep track of. Some of the dates may be a bit muddled, because of the time differences across the countries, but I’ll do my best to keep them straight. For simplicity’s sake, all release dates mentioned are US release dates. I’ve included all that I consider as key events, but the virus has bulldozed its way through a gazillion things and 2020 is now basically cancelled, so I may miss out a few.)
Early Jan 2020
23 Jan 2020
In a bid to stop people from congregating in cinemas during Chinese New Year (the peak moviegoing period in China) and worsening the spread of the virus, major Chinese studios announce that they are pulling out seven major CNY blockbusters, essentially leaving Chinese cinemas with nothing to play and being forced to close during CNY:
- Stanley Tong’s action comedy Vanguard starring Jackie Chan
- Dante Lam’s action thriller The Rescue starring Eddie Peng
- Hit comedy sequel Detective Chinatown 3
- Xu Zheng’s comedy Lost in Russia
- Sports epic Leap starring Gong Li
- Jiang Zi Ya: Legend of Deification (from the studio that produced the surprise fantasy animation hit Nezha)
- Boonie Bears: The Wild Life
CNY box offices of Asian countries with a large Chinese population and which were showing some, if not all of these films, were thus affected.
24 Jan 2020
Late Jan onwards
The escalating COVID-19 crisis in China and the reverberations as the virus slowly made its way into surrounding countries and the rest of the world result in people being more wary of going out in public into enclosed spaces. Box office takings in Asian countries start to plummet.
24 Feb 2020
Late Feb 2020
29 Feb 2020
2 Mar 2020
3 Mar 2020
4 Mar 2020
MipTV, the international television conference held in Cannes every April, is cancelled. Canneseries, the competitive television festival, is moved to October 9. The Cannes Film Fest/Film Market is still scheduled to go ahead in May.
5 Mar 2020
Bond movie No Time to Die moves from 10 April to 25 November due to coronavirus fears, as it would have diminished its international box office sales. (Do keep in mind that at this time, most people in the US were still unbothered about the virus, and Donald Trump was still reiterating his hopes and dreams that “One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”)
6 Mar 2020
8 Mar 2020
9 Mar 2020
10 Mar 2020
Disney Plus’ The Falcon and The Winter Soldier which had been shooting in Prague halts production after the Czech government placed a ban on movie screenings, elementary and high school classes, sports matches, and cultural events. They are the first TV production to stop filming, with other TV studios taking a wait-and-see approach.
11 Mar 2020
One week after CinemaCon, the largest trade gathering of movie theater owners from around the world, decided to move ahead with enhanced precautionary measures amid coronavirus worries, CinemaCon is cancelled.
12 Mar 2020
With a week to go before A Quiet Place Part II was to release in cinemas on 20 March, Paramount announces that the movie will be postponed indefinitely. It also announces Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae’s comedy The Lovebirds will be delayed. (The Lovebirds is later sold to Netflix.)
It starts a wave of release date pull-outs:
- Universal postpones Fast & Furious 9 a year from May 2020 to 2 April 2021.
- Disney follows suit quickly by postponing Mulan, which it had waffled on postponing ever since the film’s biggest market, China, shuttered all its cinemas in late January. They decided to go ahead with its release and even held the movie premiere two days before the announcement, but Paramount’s bold last-minute move finally gave them precedent to pull out the tentpole 2 weeks before release.
- Disney also postpones horror mystery Antlers and the accursed The New Mutants, for whom this delay is the 4th time its release date has been shifted.
Full list of release date changes:
- A Quiet Place Part II – TBD (from 20 Mar 2020)
- The Lovebirds – TBD on Netflix (from 3 Apr 2020)
- Fast & Furious 9 – 2 Apr 2021 (from 22 May 2020)
- Mulan – TBD (from 27 Mar 2020)
- Antlers – TBD (from 17 Apr 2020)
- The New Mutants – TBD (from 3 Apr 2020)
As Broadway shuts down, NYC-based Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Late Night With Seth Meyers and Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon decide to speed up decision to tape without live studio audiences effective immediately. Later that night, all three shows suspend production due to the state of emergency declared in New York City. Other talk shows soon follow.
13 Mar 2020
Disney stops all live-action film productions, including Shang-Chi: Legend of the Ten Rings, The Little Mermaid, the Home Alone reboot and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro’s follow-up to The Shape of Water). Other studios soon follow suit over the course of the next few days.
France bans gatherings of more than 100 people. Industry watchers still awaiting impact on Cannes.
14 Mar 2020
16 Mar 2020
In place of late-night broadcasts, Stephen Colbert is the first late-night show host to record videos from home and post them online. He is followed soon by everyone else.
With many US theaters closing or operating at reduced capacity, Universal Pictures is the first to break theatrical windows and make its currently showing theatrical releases — including Trolls World Tour, which is showing in several parts of the world but not yet open in the US — available on demand at the same. Other studios soon follow suit.
17 Mar 2020
AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas and more theatres in the US announce they are shutting down after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended new guidelines that limit social gatherings to less than 10 people.
Disney then announces they are pulling Marvel Studios’ Black Widow indefinitely. The studio also pulled the Dev Patel-led drama The Personal History of David Copperfield and Amy Adams’ domestic thriller The Woman in the Window.
Later in the evening, Lionsgate announces they are pulling out horror franchise Saw reboot Spiral starring Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Rock, Janelle Monae’s time-travel horror Antebellum and Sarah Paulson’s horror-thriller Run.
Full list of release date changes:
- Black Widow – TBD (from 1 May 2020)
- The Personal History of David Copperfield – TBD (from 8 May 2020)
- The Woman in the Window – TBD (from 15 May 2020)
- Spiral: From the Book of Saw – TBD (from 15 May 2020)
- Antebellum – TBD (from 24 Apr 2020)
- Run – TBD (from 8 May 2020)
18 Mar 2020
19 Mar 2020
The Cannes Film Fest, after waffling for weeks, finally decides to postpone the fest that was set to begin 12-23 May. It is considering new dates in the end of June or the beginning of July.
22 Mar 2020
24 Mar 2020
Warner Bros announces that they will postpone Wonder Woman 1984 from 5 June to 14 August. Animated Scooby-Doo movie Scoob!, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical In the Heights and James Wan’s horror film Malignant will be delayed indefinitely.
Full list of release date changes:
- Wonder Woman 1984 – 14 Aug 2020 (from 5 Jun 2020)
- Scoob! – TBD (from 15 May 2020)
- In the Heights – TBD (from 26 Jun 2020)
- Malignant – TBD (from 14 Aug 2020)
25 Mar 2020
26 Mar 2020
27 Mar 2020
29 Mar 2020
30 Mar 2020
- Tom Hanks’ WWII submarine drama Greyhound – TBD (from 12 Jun 2020)
- Kevin Hart’s single dad drama Fatherhood – 23 Oct 2020 (from 15 Jan 2021)
- Animated family comedy Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway – 15 Jan 2021 (from 7 Aug 2020)
- Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife – 5 Mar 2021 (from 10 Jul 2020)
- Jared Leto’s Sony/Marvel Morbius – 19 Mar 2021 (from 31 Jul 2020)
- Tom Holland’s video game adaptation Uncharted – 8 Oct 2021 (from 5 Mar 2021)
- Untitled Sony/Marvel – TBD (from 8 Oct 2021)
Disney announces pay cuts for their senior executives. CEO turned executive chairman Bob Iger will forgo his salary while the salary waiver is in effect, while new CEO Bob Chapek will take a 50% pay cut.
1 April 2020
Universal pushes back release for Minions: The Rise of Gru to 2021, while Sing 2 will move to Dec 2021. The long-gestating Wicked adaptation, which has been in development since the musical became a hit in 2003, will continue gestating.
- Minions: The Rise of Gru – 2 Jul 2021 (from 3 Jul 2020)
- Sing 2 – 22 Dec 2021 (from 2 Jul 2021)
- Wicked – TBD (from 22 Dec 2021)
2 April 2020
- Top Gun: Maverick – 23 Dec 2020 (from 24 Jun 2020)
- A Quiet Place Part II – 4 Sep 2020 (from TBD, previously 20 Mar 2020)
- The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run – 31 Jul 2020 (from 22 May 2020)
- The Tomorrow War – TBD (from 25 Dec 2020)
3 April 2020
- Candyman – 25 Sep 2020 (from 12 Jun 2020)
- Edgar Wright’s drama thriller Last Night in Soho – TBD (from 25 Sep 2020)
- Mulan – 24 Jul 2020 (from TBD, previously 27 Mar 2020)
- Sci-fi fantasy Artemis Fowl – Will debut on Disney Plus (previously 29 May 2020 in cinemas)
- The Rock and Emily Blunt’s adventure movie Jungle Cruise – 30 Jul 2021 (from 24 Jul 2020)
- Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch – 16 Oct 2020 (from 24 Jul 2020)
- Ryan Reynolds’ action comedy Free Guy – 11 Dec 2020 (from 3 Jul 2020)
- Black Widow – 6 Nov 2020 (from TBD, previously 1 May 2020)
- The Eternals – 12 Feb 2021 (from 6 Nov 2020)
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – 7 May 2021 (from 12 Feb 2021)
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – 5 Nov 2021 (from 7 May 2021)
- Thor: Love And Thunder – 18 Feb 2022 (from 5 Nov 2021)
- Indiana Jones 5 – 29 Jul 2022 (from 9 Jul 2021)
6 April 2020
Cineworld, the world’s second largest cinema chain, will suspend payment of dividends to shareholders, while the company’s executive directors agree to defer salary and bonus payments during this COVID-19 period.
7 April 2020
8 April 2020
Disney+ announces that it has hit 50 million paid subscribers worldwide, despite launching only 5 months ago, and still in the early stages of its global rollout. It is unclear if the numbers were boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to stay home.
9 April 2020
13 April 2020
France announces lockdown will be extended to mid-May, all festivals banned till mid-July. This will affect the Cannes Film Festival, which has been considering new dates in the end of June or the beginning of July. It will also affect the Tour de France, which was scheduled for 27 June to 19 July.
Disney moves Soul, the last summer holdout, from June to November. This leaves no tentpoles opening until Christopher Nolan’s Tenet opens in mid-late July.
- Soul – 20 Nov 2020 (from 19 Jun 2020)
- Raya and the Last Dragon – 12 Mar 2021 (from 25 Nov 2020)
14 April 2020
Following French president Emmanuel Macron’s announcement of France’s ban on festivals till mid-May, Cannes organisers have postponed the festival again, but are exploring other options to make it work.
- Infinite – 28 May 2021 (from 7 Aug 2020)
- The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run – 7 Aug 2020 (from 31 Jul 2020; previously 22 May 2020)
17 April 2020
20 April 2020
Due to the production halts caused by COVID-19 and inability to meet deadlines, Warner Bros pushes back Matt Reeves and Robert Pattison’s The Batman by 4 months to October 2021, and does a major reshuffling of its future release slate.
- The Batman – 1 Oct 2021 (from 25 Jun 2020)
- The Many Saints of Newark – 12 Mar 2021 (from 25 Sep 2020)
- The Flash – 2 Jun 2022 (from 1 Jul 2022)
- Shazam 2 – 4 Nov 2022 (from 1 Apr 2022)
- Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic – 5 Nov 2021 (from 1 Oct 2021)
- Will Smith’s sports drama King Richard – 19 Nov 2021 (from 25 Nov 2020)
21 April 2020
- Venom: Let There Be Carnage – 25 Jun 2021 (from 2 Oct 2020)
- In the Heights – 18 Jun 2021 (from TBD, previously 26 Jun 2020)
- Scoob! – Will be available on demand on 15 May 2020 (its previous theatrical date)
While some Southern US states are giving businesses the go-ahead to reopen as early as 27 April, the National Association of Theater Owners in the US warns against reopening too early due to the dearth of new wide release movies until July.
24 April 2020
- Mission: Impossible 7 – 19 Nov 2021 (from 23 Jul 2021)
- Mission: Impossible 8 – 4 Nov 2022 (from 5 Aug 2022)
- The Tomorrow War – 23 Jul 2021 (from TBD, previously 25 Dec 2020)
- Dungeons & Dragons – 27 May 2022 (from 19 Nov 2021)
- Spider-Man: Far from Home sequel – 5 Nov 2021 (from 16 Jul 2021)
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sequel – 7 Oct 2022 (from 8 Apr 2022)
- Thor: Love and Thunder – 11 Feb 2022 (from 18 Feb 2022, previously 5 Nov 2021)
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – 25 Mar 2022 (from 5 Nov 2021, previously 7 May 2021)
- Animated family comedy Connected – 23 Oct 2020 (from 18 Sep 2020)
- Thriller Escape Room 2 – 1 Jan 2021 (from 14 Aug 2020)
- Kevin Hart drama Fatherhood – 2 Apr 2021 (from 23 Oct 2020)
- Lin-Manuel Miranda’s animated musical adventure Vivo – 4 Jun 2021 (from 16 Apr 2021)
- Tom Holland’s video game adaptation Uncharted – 16 Jul 2021 (from 8 Oct 2021, previously 5 Mar 2021)
- Woody Harrelson and Kevin Hart action comedy The Man from Toronto – 17 Sep 2021 (from 20 Nov 2020)
- Animated family comedy Hotel Transylvania 4 – 6 Oct 2021 (from 22 Dec 2021)
- WWII coming-of-age sisters drama The Nightingale – TBD (from 25 Dec 2020)
27 April 2020
With most cinemas remaining closed in June, Universal’s The King of Staten Island is the next film to skip theatres and go straight to premium VOD on 12 Jun, one week before it was to debut in cinemas on 19 Jun.
28 April 2020
After NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell revealed that Trolls World Tour earned an estimated US$100 million in premium VOD rentals and that they expect to release films in both theaters and premium VOD in future, theater owners took offense, with AMC Theatres — the largest cinema circuit in the world — refusing to play Universal films until Universal backs down from their position in future.
The Oscars and the Golden Globe Awards make temporary rule changes to eligibility to account for COVID-19’s closures of cinemas and screening rooms and films cancelling their planned theatrical releases.
France’s reveals reopening plan that will have cinemas remain closed till June at least, and large gatherings like the Cannes Film Festival banned until September at least — ill news for Cannes which has been postponed twice and is looking extremely unlikely to happen at all.
29 April 2020
European cinema owners also weigh in unhappily on Universal’s proclamation that they will release films in both theaters and premium VOD in future, while Cineworld — the 2nd-largest cinema circuit in the world — joins AMC Theatres in boycotting films that do not respect a 90-day window period between the start of the theatrical release and being available on video-on-demand.
30 April 2020
Acknowledging the Trolls World Tour windows controversy and war of words with exhibitors, NBCUniversal Jeff Shell reaffirms theatrical releases as central element to business, but premium VOD as complementary, depending on how the business is going to be like when the crisis is over and each film’s unique circumstances.
1 May 2020
Norway announces they will allow cinemas to reopen 7 May with 50-person capacity per screen, while the Czech Republic will reopen cinemas on 11 May with a 100-person capacity limit, two weeks ahead of the government’s previous 25 May target.
- Antebellum – 21 Aug 2020 (from TBD, previously 24 Apr 2020)
- Horror franchise reboot Spiral: From the Book of Saw – 21 May 2021 (from TBD, previously 15 May 2020)
- Keanu Reeves’ John Wick: Chapter 4 – 27 May 2022 (from 21 May 2021)
- Fatale – 30 Oct 2020 (from 19 Jun 2020)
- Kristen Wiig comedy Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar – 16 Jul 2021 (from 31 Jul 2020)
- Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson’s action comedy sequel The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard – 20 Aug 2021 (from 28 Aug 2020)
3 May 2020
5 May 2020
7 May 2020
New Zealand government approves its health and safety production protocols, which means shoots can resume in New Zealand for productions halted there, such as the Avatar sequels and The Lord of the Rings Amazon TV series, once they’re ready.
As Germany cautiously loosens its lockdown measures, Germany’s largest state will allow movie theatres to reopen on 30 May under strict hygiene and social distancing guidelines.
8 May 2020
Chinese authorities say Chinese cinemas may now reopen if they follow coronavirus prevention protocols. No actual orders have been given to open cinemas though, so they remain closed.
10 May 2020
The Cannes Film Fest organising committee just refuses to quit. While there won’t be a physical edition this year, they may screen a selection of films (without awarding prizes) under the banner of Cannes 2020 at several fall film festivals.
11 May 2020
Shanghai Disneyland reopens with strict public safety measures in place and at 30 percent capacity, with tickets for the first week’s reopening selling out within minutes when it went on sale on 8 May. It was the first of Disney’s theme parks to close in late January, and will offer a blueprint for the rest of Disney’s theme parks to reopen in other territories.
13 May 2020
Disney adds The New Mutants back into its release calendar for 28 August 2020. It had undated it on 12 March from its previous 3 April release date.
14 May 2020
With cinemas closed for the foreseeable future, Amazon India acquires several highly-anticipated Indian blockbusters for their direct-to-streaming platform — including venerated actor Amitabh Bachchan’s dramatic comedy Gulabo Sitabo — incurring the wrath of Indian exhibitors.
15 May 2020
16 May 2020
Italy’s prime minister announces that Italian cinemas will be allowed to reopen from 15 June. Whether many cinemas will be operational by then is another matter.
19 May 2020
Sony sells Tom Hanks’ WWII submarine drama Greyhound to streaming service Apple TV+. Originally slated for a Father’s Day release in June, it was pulled from the release schedule on 30 March due to COVID-19 and remains undated.
20 May 2020
Productions, especially smaller independent productions, are having difficulty restarting due to their need to have insurance to start rolling, but insurers don’t want to take the risk of covering pandemic losses.
12 June 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 – 2 Oct 2020 (from 14 Aug 2020, previously 5 Jun 2020)
- Christopher Nolan’s Tenet – 31 Jul 2020 (from 17 Jul 2020)
- Godzilla vs. Kong – 21 May 2021 (from 20 Nov 2020)
- Tom and Jerry – 5 Mar 2021 (from 23 Dec 2020)
- Roald Dahl’s The Witches adaptation – TBD (from 9 Oct 2020)
- The Matrix 4 – 1 Apr 2022 (from 5 Mar 2021)
13 June 2020
James Bond film No Time to Die moves up its release date from 25 Nov 2020 to 20 Nov 2020 to take over the slot previously occupied by Godzilla vs. Kong.
18 June 2020
24 June 2020
Disney reports that it would not get state clearance in time for Disneyland Anaheim’s proposed 17 July reopening, with a new date still up in the air, as coronavirus cases surge again in the U.S.
25 June 2020
Christopher Nolan’s Tenet delays its release for the second time to mid-August, after a spike in coronavirus cases in the U.S. make it unlikely that theatres in key U.S. markets will be able to open by end July.
26 June 2020
For the same reason that Tenet is delay its release for the second time, Mulan will also delay its release for the second time till late August, one week after Tenet opens.
29 June 2020
AMC Theatres postpones reopening plans to end of July following the spike in coronavirus cases in the U.S., and Tenet and Mulan pushing back their release dates to August.