Hollywood films delayed again but one executive expects ‘very bullish’ Q3

Written by: Jayson Derrick
January 18, 2021
  • The struggling theater industry won't be able to benefit from major studio launches in Q1.
  • Many highly anticipated films were delayed to later on in the year.
  • One executive is expecting a "very bullish" Q3

The struggling movie and cinema industry was dealt yet another blow as some of Hollywood’s most anticipated cinema releases for the first quarter of 2021 will be delayed, The Wall Street Journal reported.

A struggling industry

Liam Neeson’s “The Marksman” ranked as the top-grossing film in the U.S. over the weekend with a measly $3 million in box sales, according to WSJ. The number two film, “Wonder Woman 1984,” was mostly viewed at drive-in locations and in theaters operating in very small markets.

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Approximately one-third of all theaters are open in the U.S. and now vital markets for movies, especially Los Angeles, continue to deal with rising COVID-19 infections. In faction, Los Angeles ranks as one of the top-performing movie markets and the pandemic has climbed to record high infections in recent weeks.

As such, studios are scrambling to revisit their release schedule for the first quarter of 2021. So far, the “Spider-Man” spinoff called “Morbius” was scheduled to release on March 19 and was the first big-budget, wide-release offering. Instead, it will launch in early Oct.

The fate of Daniel Craig’s reprisal as James Bond in “No Time to Die” has already been delayed twice and its scheduled launch for April appears to be unrealistic.

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Strong end to 2021?

It remains unclear how consumers will react to continued delays in movies they are interested in. Some might lose interest in returning to theaters even when safe to do so while others can’t wait to return.

Chris Aronson, a high ranking executive at ViacomCBS Inc’s (NASDAQ: VIAC) Paramount Pictures studio, told WSJ he expects a “very bullish” third quarter. He is working on the assumption today that a July 2 launch of “Top Gun: Maverick” will proceed uninterrupted.

But movie theaters may not be able to wait that long. The movie industry is sitting on a treasure chest of top content and streaming media content providers are likely very interested in obtaining the rights to release it to their user base.

But even if all goes according to plans, there could be a flurry of new releases at around the same time. Moviegoers might have to choose between Tom Cruise as a fighter pilot or Daniel Craig as the iconic British spy.

Chris Pratt’s “The Tomorrow War” isn’t taking a chance of competing against other notable films. Skydance Media, the co-financier behind the film, held an auction for streaming media companies, and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) is reportedly interested in buying the film for $200 to stream on Prime.