There’s an uncomfortable amount of uncertainty in our industry right now. Movies are being delayed on a regular basis, and none of us really know when things are going to straighten out. It’s impossible to predict how the continued spread of the coronavirus will affect the future of the movie industry, so we look to big-picture indicators to suggest when a return to normalcy might occur.
And the most recent message sent to us by Hollywood has me feeling strangely optimistic today.
Paramount Pictures made a bold move by claiming release dates for movies that had been affected already by the theater closings, and some titles that still were holding on to their release dates. John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II and Tom Cruise’s anticipated Top Gun: Maverick announced new dates, making sure they had a distribution plan in place for when things start to return to business as usual.
Unlike some of their competitive studios, however, Paramount kept the bulk of its slate down for 2020… with A Quiet Place Part II circling September 4 as its intended release now. And just seeing a movie that had been delayed being added to the calendar later this year gave me a sense of hope that the light suddenly can be seen at the end of the tunnel.
I’m not saying that September feels like tomorrow. It’s still five months of nothing major opening in theaters, if these distribution plans hold. But it’s not March or April of 2021, as a few other like-minded blockbusters had to shift back to (with good reason). Many tentpole franchises such as the Fast & Furious movies or Ghostbusters: Afterlife will rely heavily on the international markets to be open to earn back the most profit. Seeing a movie like A Quiet Place Part II grabbing a weekend in September and preparing to lure patrons back to theaters seems to give us a strong date to circle and begin to work towards. And that makes me feel optimistic!
The thing about John Krasinki’s sequel is that, unlike some other major releases, it’s finished and ready to go. It actually is one of the last movies I was lucky enough to see in theaters before all of this hit the pause button, as CinemaBlend covered the press junket in New York City. Man, this feels like an eternity ago.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was braced for a prolonged absence of new movies, as the uncertainty surrounding our current social situation instilled enough fear on the Hollywood studio side that they’d prefer to linger on the sidelines instead of leading the charge back to multiplexes. But Paramount circling dates that aren’t that far in the distant future feels like a catalyst that could compel other studios to consider a return. Maybe Warner Bros. holds that August date for Wonder Woman 1984. Perhaps Tenet stays where it is in July, and theaters feel comfortable enough to open (with limitations). AMC’s CEO suggested mid-June, so could that time frame be in play.
Something about today’s date reveals had the opposite effect of other delays. Here, we had a movie that had been postponed – A Quiet Place Part II – reclaiming a date in 2020. That feels like this year is NOT being flushed, that we’re not putting the entire calendar on hold and looking to resume operations next year. And that’s a step forward, in my mind. How about in yours?