You might say that James Bond has a license to move.
Britain’s durable super spy is taking his latest adventure, No Time to Die, all the way to April 2021. That’s the fifth time the movie has been postponed—and the second delay due to the coronavirus. Ernst Blofeld, Bond’s longtime nemesis, has nothing on COVID-19.
Before the latest delay, many hoped that Bond would (as he’s done so many times) save the world—the entertainment world this time. When No Time to Die moved from April to November because of coronavirus concerns paired with tepid consumer engagement with reopened theaters, it was thought that the flick (along with a handful of delayed blockbusters) would trumpet the return to cinematic normalcy. Popcorn would be popping, seats would be filled and theaters would be buzzing again.
But COVID-19 has proven to be far more stubborn—at least in the U.S.—than theater chains would like. Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s twisty sci-fi adventure, is the only true blockbuster released during the crisis, and it’s done quite well overseas: $307.1 million, according to Box Office Mojo. But Tenet has earned just $45.1 million in North America—hardly the box-office bonanza that either the studio or theater chains had anticipated. For comparison’s sake, if we migrated Tenet’s 2020 take to 2019, itsdomestic box office would rank just 62nd in 2019, wedged between Wonder Park ($45.2 million) and Rambo: Last Blood ($44.8 million), two movies you’ve likely forgotten all about by now.
So with No Time to Die moving to 2021, one theater chain—U.K.-owned Cineworld, which is the company behind Regal Cinemas in the U.S.—announced that it was shutting its doors until things improve, which might not be until next year. “We are like a grocery shop that doesn’t have vegetables, fruit, meat,” said Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger. “We cannot operate for a long time without a product.” The chain’s 536 theaters could close within the week. And it might not be the only chain to pull the curtains for now.
In fact, the Motion Picture Association is asking Congress to offer aid to movie theaters now. “If the status quo continues, 69% of small and mid-sized movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently, and 66% of theater jobs will be lost,” the MPA wrote in a letter signed by dozens of Hollywood luminaries, such as James Cameron and Martin Scorsese.
Movie studios haven’t pushed every big movie to 2021 just yet, though. Soul, Disney/Pixar’s latest, is still scheduled to be released on Nov. 20 (though there’s speculation it will be released on Disney+, not in theaters). Meanwhile, The Croods: A New Age is slated for the week after that. Dune is set for a Dec. 18 release, and Wonder Woman 1984 still, optimistically, has planted its flag for Christmas day.
And while we might not be seeing the release of big movies, we’ve seen plenty of smaller ones land both in theaters and online—some of which, we’ve discovered, are pretty decent. And, of course, the streaming services are absolutely inundated with new content.
Ironically, all that video-on-demand and streaming content has made first-run movies more accessible to many, especially families. And let’s face it: In these stressful times, many of us are turning to entertainment more regularly than ever for a little relief.
All of which has kept us at Plugged In extraordinarily busy. Sure, we might not be reviewing the tentpole movies we’ve been accustomed to in years past, but we’re seeing and talking about more movies than ever. Why? Because we know that you’re looking for new entertainment options, too. We want to give you as much information as possible, even if uncovering those diamonds in the dirt is a little more difficult than it’s been in the past.
So keep visiting, dear reader. We’ll continue to tell you everything you need to know about what’s worth watching and what’s worth skipping.
And when James Bond returns for real, we’ll be there for that, too.