How to deal with the ever-changing movie premiere dates

by Megan Bianco

With the announcement that some movie theaters have now officially been given legal approval to re-open in California, it would appear that this summer may end up having a few new blockbuster releases if we’re lucky. There are still a ton of film premieres that have been pushed back rather than rolling out on “home theater” screens, but we may finally be on track for some new content to watch. Still, there are a few things to consider with this sudden and surprising news.

One is that not every state is at the same stage as California, so while there may be movie premieres in CA, businesses and public places aren’t open in other states. That means that if films roll out to theaters in limited areas, there won’t be as much box-office profit potential as there normally would be – but that’s just life in the midst of a pandemic.

And even if theaters are game to reopen right now, there will be pressure to make some temporary changes to their building’s occupancy plus new sanitary rules, which will vastly limit the number of people who can watch the films in theaters at any given time (and this again further limits profits).

There are also a ton of films that were put on indefinite standstill, as studios likely weren’t expecting things to go back to “normal” so quickly – especially after many of them had rescheduled filming or premieres for the holiday season or next year.

Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” chose to hold out as long as it could, and the plan to watch and wait may have paid off for the first big summer movie, as it was only postponed two weeks. Good luck to Warner Bros. — it must be nerve-wracking to deal with the pressure of releasing blockbusters with the possibility that there can’t, or won’t, be a full house in theaters.

The WB decided to completely abandon the idea of a summer release for Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman 1984,” and the studio opted to go for an October release date instead. This is a decision I can understand, as the autumn season usually draws in movie viewers – and there’s a slight chance things may be back to normal by that time, or maybe they’ll have stabilized, anyway.

One thing I’ve noticed in the past couple of weeks is that studios are still consistently changing release dates in response to the restrictions that are limiting movie premieres, but the delays are getting shorter and shorter – which could signal that a return to normal for the film industry is on the horizon. Nearly every spring release was postponed for months back in March, but now new release dates are being reported as one to three weeks out. That’s the case with Derrick Borte’s “Unhinged,” Ric Roman Waugh’s “Greenland,” Dean Parisot’s “Bill & Ted: Face the Music,” and Cary Fukunaga’s “No Time to Die,” anyway.

If the film and theater industries pushing forward with premieres and release dates are a sign of what’s to come, it looks like we may be getting back to normal(ish) soon – even if the premiere dates are in constant flux. Whether that’s true or not, though, is anyone’s guess.

Megan Bianco

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