Small budget independent films and classic movies will show up in theaters first before a handful of tentpole productions premiere as venues across the county start to reopen after being shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s the plan for now as the film industry pushes to get back in theaters that were closed down across the country as the outbreak was unfolding and are now preparing to reopen in some areas.
The independent Solstice Studios saw low risk in releasing its $33 million road rage film Unhinged, starring Russel Crowe, on July 1, after it originally had planned to be released in September. Its release will be followed by the Picturehouse release of Fatima, a religious film featuring actor Harvey Keitel slated for August.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. will be re-releasing classic films like the Wizard of Oz from and 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in late June when it expects some theaters will open their doors again, and before it goes ahead with rolling out potential summer hits Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984. Disney also has its live version of Mulan coming.
Solstice Studios saw low risk in releasing its $33 million road rage film Unhinged, starring Russel Crowe (pictured), on July 1, after it originally had planned to be released in September. Its release will be followed by the Picturehouse release of Fatima, a religious slated for August
The Picturehouse release of Fatima, an independent religious film featuring actor Harvey Keitel (pictured), is slated for August
Warner Bros. will be rereleasing classic films like the Wizard of Oz from 1939 starring Judy Garland (pictured) as it expects some theaters to reopen by late June
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder and Peter Ostrum will be rereleased by Warner Bros. in theaters that start to reopen in late June
And coming soon to entice movie goers back to theaters are the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, Vanity Fair reports.
Hollywood can shelve its films and wait, but the theaters cannot be left without movies, and operators have been anxious to reopen.
‘We’re living in a world of complicated and conflicting data points right now. And part of the reason why it’s complicated is we’ve never actually been in this world before, right?’ John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners tells Vanity Fair.
Among the tentpole films that are still slated for release this summer is the action thriller Tenet which is directed by Christopher Nolan and stars John David Washington (pictured)
Another potential blockbuster that’s still slated for this summer is the super hero sequel Wonder Woman 1984, starring Gal Gadot (pictured)
Disney also has its live version of Mulan coming this summer
‘In our industry, we’ve been around for, what, 115, 120 years? We’ve never shut down entirely. Wars, natural disasters, depressions…we were rolling right along at about $40 billion a year, and then in mid-March, we had to go to zero overnight—just shutting down everything—to do the right thing and to stop the spread of the virus. And so how we get back up is a very complicated process.’
On March 20, when the lockdown was started due to COVID-19, Tenet director Christopher Nolan praised theaters and moviegoing in a piece he wrote for the Washington Post, while sticking to the upcoming action thriller’s original July 17 release date.
The industry is now watching Nolan and the film’s studio, Warner Bros., closely to see if the tentpole can still deliver as the US slowly emerges from the pandemic.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy starring Sir Ian Murray McKellen as the wizard Gandalf will be rereleased in late June as some theaters reopen in some some states
The Hobbit film series starring Martin Freeman are also slated to return in late June
On March 20, when the lockdown was started due to COVID-19, Tenet director Christopher Nolan praised theaters and moviegoing in a piece he wrote for the Washington Post, while sticking to the upcoming action thriller’s original July 17 release date
The industry is now watching Nolan and the film’s studio, Warner Bros., closely to see if Tenet can still deliver as the US slowly emerges from the pandemic. The film’s star John David Washington is pictured in a scene from the movie
While it appears some theaters in certain states will be open by July, it’s not likely to happen in major urban areas which will take longer to reopen and normally would contribute a huge amount at the box office. That could hurt a film like Tenet’s potential for earning back its budget and being declared a success with audiences.
An executive at a studio that moved many of its films to next year was relieved the decision was made.
‘It seemed drastic at the time but I’m happy they’re on a future horizon,’ he said. ‘For any of the big tentpoles that cost a fortune and need to make even more, all of us need full moviegoing potential back—not partial capacities. It’s so hard to know when that happens, but I think we are still pretty far out from that.’
The Harry Potter films are coming back to theaters that reopen in late June
In addition to Tenet, Universal is set to release the horror sequel The Forever Purge on July 10, but there are skeptics the studio will keep the film’s release schedule, Vanity Fair reports.
Mulan is coming from Disney on July 24, four months after its original March debut was put off by the studio two weeks before opening.
What’s left on the summer schedule includes Wonder Woman 1984 and a new adaptation of the children’s classic The Secret Garden, both to be released on August 14.
Coming August 21 will be the Janelle Monáe horror film Antebellum and the long-awaited reunion of Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in Bill & Ted Face the Music.
Coming August 21 will be the long-awaited reunion of Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter (pictured) in Bill & Ted Face the Music
Theater owners vow to have safety measures in place once the theaters return. Their efforts included cleaning and sanitizing the venues, spreading out movie goers and possibly taking temperature checks and requiring masks.
Despite the safety measures, those within the industry say there won’t be a return to ‘normal’.
‘There is nothing short-term about this situation. We are going to be in this for the long haul,’ a marketing executive said. ‘More vulnerable film lovers may feel going to the movies is a risk, and sadly they may avoid theaters until there is a treatment or vaccine.’