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Back in the spring of 2020, when the entire movie industry was trying to figure out to handle the growing global pandemic, a lot of different things were tried. Some movies, like Mulan and Tenet, were only delayed by a couple months, in the hopes that theaters would be able to open quickly and they could be the first out of the gate. Other films were pushed from the summer into the fall and winter. Still more, like F9 and Jungle Cruise were delayed an entire year at the outset. At the time, that response may have seemed a tad extreme, now however, it seems like that was probably the right call. But was even one year long enough? Will F9 actually open in theaters in May? Vin Diesel says yes.
One of the only major releases to actually open in theaters in 2019 after the pandemic started was Christopher Nolan's Tenet, and that decision was largely credited to Nolan's personal desire to see it happen due to his belief in the importance of the cinematic experience. Speaking with Total Film, Vin Diesel seems to have very similar feelings, saying that he is fully committed to the theatrical experience. He is certainly still planning for a theatrical release this May...
I’m so committed to the theatrical experience. Obviously, I’ve dedicated my life to [the cinema]. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that we’re going to be there on May 28 with a movie that everybody is going to want to see together.
May 28 is a long way off and if there's one thing this pandemic has taught us, it's that things continue to change quickly. Of course, with a vaccine slowly rolling out things should begin to get steadily better, and then hopefully stay that way, and so being able to go to a movie at the end of may may not be too unreasonable an expectation.
This desire to commit to the theatrical experience may be part of the reason that F9 decided to hold off for a full year rather than just a few months, or to go straight to streaming platforms as some films did. As a producer, Vin Diesel would have been part of that conversation and the decision making. It's unclear how far this commitment really goes. If things don't look in May, will we see F9 delayed again? Could we see a simultaneous theater and streaming launch as some films are doing? It may depend on just how committed Vin Diesel and others are to the theatrical experience.
While all signs point to 2021 being a year of improvement, it likely still won't be a year of normal. Although, if we all feel good enough to go to the theater to watch a Fast & Furious movie, it certainly might feel normal.