Vin Diesel and Nathalie Emmanuel in F9

If the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t wreaked havoc on the film industry last year, Fast & Furious 9, i.e. F9, would have premiered in theaters on May 22, 2020 and been released on home media several months later. Instead, F9 was among the first movies to be pushed back in response to the spreading coronavirus, and right now, the plan is for it to come out on May 28. However, if a new report proves accurate, moviegoing audiences will have to wait even longer for the next chapter of the Fast & Furious saga.

As reported by Variety, Universal Pictures intends for F9 to still be a theatrical release, which is unsurprising considering how commercially successful the Fast & Furious franchise has been. Just look at Furious 7 and The Fate of the Furious, both of which crossed the $1 billion mark. However, with the pandemic still impeding everyday life and keeping so many movie theaters shut down, Universal is considering pushing back F9 to July or August, or perhaps towards the end of 2021. It’s even possible it could be sent to 2022.

The studio hasn’t made a concrete decision on whether or not to pull F9 out of its current release slot, instead waiting to see on how the box office recovers in China, where the Fast & Furious franchise is incredibly popular. It’s worth noting that last year, Universal struck up agreements with the AMC and Cinemark theater chains that allow for its movies to be sent to VOD following a shorter theatrical-exclusive window. But even then, without enough movie theaters around the world being open, F9 would face an uphill battle pulling in anywhere near the amount of money its immediate predecessors collected. Just look at how Tenet did last year during its time in theaters, or how Wonder Woman 1984 theatrically performed while it was available on HBO Max at the same time.

The Variety article noted that just like the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Widow, F9 benefits from brand awareness, with the Fast & Furious franchise having been around for 20 years now. So there’s no need to “introduce” these characters the same way you’d need to do for an original property. F9 also doesn’t have to worry about significant consumer product tie-ins that become more costly the more you delay a movie, unlike No Time to Die, the next James Bond movie, as that franchise is partnered with Heineken and Audi.

Still, with F9 currently slated to arrive over a year after its original release date, the prospect of it moving further into 2021 or even snagging a 2022 slot would be a big deal. If another delay is forthcoming, my money’s on Universal going the 2022 route, as the latter half of 2021 is already incredibly crowded with the likes of Dune, Halloween Kills, Eternals, Mission: Impossible 7 and more. Granted, some, if not all of those could move depending on how much longer this pandemic goes on, but still, F9 would have better luck carving out April or May 2022 right now.

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Whenever F9 races to the big screen, it’ll reunite fans Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and his crew, who haven’t been seen since 2017’s The Fate of the Furious. This latest car-centric adventures will see Dom and his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) facing their estranged brother Jakob, played by John Cena, who has allied himself with Charlize Theron’s Cipher. F9 is also making a splash by bringing back Sun Kang’s Han Lue, who was thought to have died in Tokyo Drift. And speaking of the third Fast & Furious movie, F9 will also feature Lucas Black’s Sean Boswell, Jason Tobin’s Earl Hu and Bow Wow’s Twinkie, all of whom were key characters in the 2006 flick.

Following F9’s release, the main Fast & Furious film series will close out with two more movies, although the franchise as a whole will keep going with offerings like the Hobbs & Shaw sequel and a female-centric spinoff. Whether F9 comes out in May or is pushed down the theatrical calendar again, we here at CinemaBlend will keep you updated on the latest developments.

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