Movie theaters were already teetering on the edge of financial disaster. On Friday, exhibitors received news that could push them over the precipice after “No Time to Die,” the latest James Bond installment, made the decision to push its release from November into April, 2021.
The move could set off a wave of theater closures as cinema owners assess whether they can keep the marquee lights on until “Wonder Woman 1984,” the next potential blockbuster slated for release this year, opens at Christmas. It also shows that even the most potent film franchise (and few series equal 007 in terms of global reach) is no match for a coronavirus pandemic that has shattered the theatrical distribution landscape.
Only a handful of movies have been released since cinemas shut down in March, and most of the films that were scheduled to open by the end of the year, a group that includes “West Side Story” and “Black Widow,” have opted to delay their debuts. Now, the postponement of “No Time to Die” will rob the exhibition industry of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue at a time when many are grappling with insolvency.
“It’s a wipeout,” said one studio veteran.
Box office analysts appear to agree: There’s no relief in sight for the movie business.
“The theatrical landscape is a vortex, and it’s clear that no big blockbuster can survive right now,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “That’s why everything is going to be pushed back to 2021.”
As it currently stands, movie theaters are looking at an October and a November that are largely devoid of major titles — a situation that’s been exacerbated by the disappointing box office returns for “Tenet,” the Christopher Nolan epic that opened in September. Pixar’s “Soul” is still scheduled for