It has begun. As we predicted might happen after MGM/Universal recently delayed the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die, more Hollywood studios are following suit by delaying movies due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Arguably the biggest of the lot, Fast & Furious 9, has been pushed back by Universal Pictures from its planned release of 22 May this year to 2 April 2021. Yes, more than a year.
The delay was announced by Universal with a lengthy statement to fans of the action blockbuster franchise.
To our family of Fast fans everywhere,
We feel all the love and the anticipation you have for the next chapter in our saga.
That’s why it’s especially tough to let you know that we have to move the release date of the film. It’s become clear that it won’t be possible for all of our fans around the world to see the film this May.
We are moving the global release date to April 2021, with North America opening on April 2. While we know there is disappointment in having to wait a little while longer, this move is made with the safety of everyone as our foremost consideration.
Moving will allow our global family to experience our new chapter together. We’ll see you next spring.
Your Fast Family
As I noted last week with the No Time to Die announcement, the Fast franchise has traditionally garnered the lion’s share of its international earnings from China. With China, the source of the Covid-19 outbreak, on lockdown, it makes no financial sense for the release of the film to continue. With other countries, like Italy and South Korea, also closing cinemas and discouraging public gatherings, big movie releases will definitely take a hit.
Another of these films that has now been delayed is A Quiet Place Part II. The much-anticipated sequel to John Krasinski’s breakout 2018 thriller was supposed to debut next week on Friday 20 March, but has now been delayed by Paramount Studios indefinitely with no new release date. Krasinski himself confirmed the reports in an Instagram post.
In an official statement from Paramount, the studio did indicate though that they still “look forward to bringing this film to audiences this year once we have a better understanding of the impact of this pandemic on the global theatrical marketplace.” For now, that date is still completely unknown.
While Fast & Furious 9 and A Quiet Place Part II are the highest-profile disruptions announced last night, they were definitely not the only ones for this week. On top of A Quiet Place Part II, Paramount has also delayed the release of The Lovebirds and Blue Story. The Lovebirds is a comedy starring Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae which was supposed to release on 3 April, while teen gang drama Blue Story was due to hit cinemas on 20 March. Both have been shifted off Paramount’s release schedule indefinitely with no new dates announced yet.
Besides for Paramount, MGM has now pushed back the release of Peter Rabbit 2 from 3 April to 7 August, while upcoming Dave Bautista family-comedy My Spy has been delayed by STXfilms from 13 March to 17 April. It’s not just films that were already about to be released that have been affected though. Various movies and TV series production which were in various stages of development have also been disrupted.
Alarmingly, a Tom Hanks-led Elvis biopic that was shooting in Australia has been put on hold after Hanks and wife Rita Wilson have tested positive for Covid-19. In one of the earliest announcements, Mission: Impossible 7 was put on hold as it was supposed to shoot for three weeks in Italy, which has the biggest outbreak outside of Asia. On the TV series front, production on Marvel’s The Falcon & The Winter Soldier has had to be halted due to the Disney+ series being unable to shoot in Prague due to an outbreak there. Grey’s Anatomy, Riverdale, The Morning Show, Grace & Frankie, Survivor, and The Amazing Race have all also seen production on their latest seasons paused in light of the outbreak in North America.
And this is not even counting all the various film festivals and events like SXSW which will see indie films now no longer being shopped around to big distributors for release. Just how that is going to play out is anybody’s guess, as we’re not truly in unprecedented territory for the industry.
UPDATE: Since the time of writing, Deadline has now also broken the news that Disney has removed Mulan, The New Mutants, and Antlers from their release schedule. They were supposed to release on 27 March, 3 April, and 17 April respectively. They currently don’t have new release dates yet. The report also mentions that the number of countries closing down cinemas have rapidly shot up, now including Denmark, Norway, Greece, Poland, India, Lebanon, and Kuwait, with Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Ukraine, and Hungary set to follow soon.
In a separate report from Variety, it’s now also been revealed that Marvel’s Shang-Chi has also shut down 1st unit production as director Destin Daniel Creton has self-isolated while awaiting results from a Covid-19 test. Creton has not been showing symptoms, but due to the fact that they have been shooting in Australia since February and he has a newborn baby, he didn’t want to take any chances. 2nd Unit production will still continue, so it’s unknown if this will affect the superhero movie’s planned February 2021 release date.
Last Updated: March 13, 2020