There has been an enormous shake-up among studios over the last month, beginning when the next James Bond film was bumped until November and the next Fast & Furious installment was pushed to 2021. Since then, the entire release schedule has basically been made over, as movies have been delayed until later this year — Top Gun: Maverick, for instance, moved from June to December — or pushed into 2021 (Jungle Cruise has moved from this summer to next summer). Black Widow, meanwhile, has been pushed into November, and basically everything on the MCU calendar has been bumped back one space, beginning with The Eternals, which has been rescheduled for February 2021. Elsewhere, Disney has actually bumped Artemis Fowl completely off the schedule. It was set to debut on May 29th, but now it will bypass theaters and debut on Disney+.
But when is the earliest that movies will actually start to return to theaters?
At this point, Disney still hasn’t bumped Soul from its slot on June 19th. That’s the earliest theaters are scheduled to screen a blockbuster movie, although Disney has already bumped Ryan Reynolds’ 4th of July opener, Free Guy until December. I think that June 19th might still be overly optimistic.
However, it does look like theaters believe moviegoers may be ready to return in full force by July, beginning with Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which has not moved off of its July 17th date. Disney’s Mulan was bumped to the next week, July 24th, followed by the Spongebob Squarepants movie on July 31st.
Meanwhile, August is now looking packed, with Mark Wahlberg’s Infinite on the 7th, the Wonder Woman sequel on the 14th, and Bill & Ted Face the Music on the 21st. Finally, A Quiet Place II has been bumped from its spring opening to Labor Day, traditionally one of the slowest weekends of the year, but studios are gambling that moviegoers will be anxious to get into theaters this year, especially as we’ll probably be doing less traveling.
So basically, mid-June is still a possibility, but Hollywood is making a safer bet that moviegoers will be ready to return closer to mid-July. Here is my guess: There will be a lot fewer movies in theaters, but each will play on more screens, allowing moviegoers to spread out a little more and give everyone the psychological illusion of safety.