EXCLUSIVE: The recent surge nationwide of coronavirus cases and California Governor Gavin Newsom‘s recent promise to lay down tougher restrictions in the state tomorrow has many in exhibition and distribution really concerned that there’s no hard date in immediate sight as to when the big circuits will reopen again.
I hear that after July 4, there will be another assessment by studios and the big circuits as to whether the current lineup of movies –Solstice Studios’ Unhinged, TriStar’s Broken Hearts Gallery, Warner Bros.’ Tenet and Disney’s Mulan– moves again as a block in another two week delay for each film as more COVID-19 data unveils itself. As such it would not come as a shocker if the current August release schedule slides into September.
At the same time, we’re hearing that New Line’s The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It is poised to depart its current Sept. 11 release date (the post Labor Day weekend which Warner Bros. has turned into a hot launchpad for horror movies) to 2021. Warner Bros. would not confirm that assessment. However, this boils down to the studio opening Christopher Nolan’s Tenet first, while also protecting what is a near $2 billion film franchise in Conjuring (across six titles). Already, the studio has RSVP’ed June 4 for an untitled New Line horror film, and we can let logic dictate our guesses about that situation. Michael Chaves directed the third installment off a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson reprise their roles as paranormal investigator Lorraine and Ed Warren. Both Conjuring movies played in the summer, with part 2 opening on June 10, 2016. Freestyle’s 2 Hearts could also push back from Sept. 11 should Tenet or Mulan move onto on its turf.
All exhibitors and rival studios are taking their cues from Warners and Disney in how they respond to scheduling movies in the current COVID-19 environment. The upcoming Independence Day weekend was the time when circuits were expected to get their sea legs with Unhinged opening. That’s not happening. And with Newsom having already closed down bars, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if the handful of hardtop theaters opening SoCal this weekend (not LA county) get impacted.
Said one movie marketing boss recently, “These release dates are as firm as Jell-O.”
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