Disney has officially pulled their 20th Century Studios movies Free Guy and Death on the Nile off the December calendar, leaving a grim immediate future in place for exhibition which was praying to make buck on the holiday moviegoing season.
This move Thursday leaves Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman 1984 left standing on December 25, though anyone with a brain is betting that the movie moves into 2021 for the same exact reasons Disney is moving its notable 20th fare to arguably next year as well. The Ryan Reynolds action comedy Free Guy was set to debut on December 11, with the Kenneth Branagh-directed all-star ensemble Death on the Nile looking to open December 18.
Even if New York City and Los Angeles were to get the all-clear to reopen cinemas in the near future, complicating everything is the fact that Western Europe has returned to lockdown given the spike in COVID-19 cases. For all these big tentpoles, the industry needs foreign, and it needs Western Europe.
Disney in recent weeks opted to take Pixar’s Soul, which was originally scheduled to play the Thanksgiving corridor, to Disney+ on Christmas Day. No extra surcharge for Disney+ subscribers like there was on Mulan stateside.
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Universal is sticking to its guns and giving exhibition and domestic audiences something to head to the cinemas: The Croods: A New Age, which will have a shortened theatrical window in time for a PVOD drop at Christmas in homes. I’ve also heard that Universal may just keep their Tom Hanks historical drama News of the World in theaters for a Christmas Day release. Ditto for Screen Gems’ Monster Hunterm which is pegging its box office fuel to Asian markets at the end of the year.
But will cinemas in the U.S. still be open? Or will they close down altogether given the lack of uber-tentpole product?
It’s a Blue Christmas, indeed.
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