Disney Removes 'Free Guy,' 'Death On The Nile' From Release Calendar

Disney has delivered another blow to the winter 2020 theatrical schedule, removing two of its December films, the Ryan Reynolds-led action comedy Free Guy and Kenneth Branagh's Death on the Nile, from its release calendar. Both films have been postponed with no new release dates set.

The House of Mouse announced another shake-up to the Disney release calendar, undating both Free Guy, initially dated on December 11, and Death on the Nile, originally slated for December 18. No new release dates for these two releases have been announced.

Free Guy, directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum), stars Reynolds as a bank teller named Guy who "realizes he is a background character in an open world video game called Free City that will soon go offline." The action comedy, which also stars Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Taika Waititi, was initially set to be theatrically released on July 3, 2020, before it was delayed to December due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Death on the Nile has had a much longer journey to the screen. Branagh's star-studded follow-up to his hit 2017 Agatha Christie whodunit Murder on the Orient ExpressDeath on the Nile was originally scheduled for December 2019 before being moved to October 9, 2020. Then it was delayed two months due to the pandemic before Disney pulled it altogether. In addition to Branagh, Death on the Nile stars Gal Gadot, Letitia Wright, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening, and Russell Brand.

With Disney essentially vacating the December theatrical schedule, Warner Bros.' Wonder Woman 1984 is the only major blockbuster scheduled for winter 2020. The sequel directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot as the titular superhero, is set to premiere on Christmas Day (for now). There are a handful of other smaller movies still sticking around: Universal has its animated sequel The Croods: A New Age set to debut on November 25, while the horror film Freaky and the black comedy Promising Young Woman are set to debut on November 13, and December 25, respectively.

But Disney pulling its two major releases from 2020 does not bode well for the struggling movie theaters, which have yet to recover amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, especially with major markets in Los Angeles and New York City remaining close. According to Comscore, roughly 50% of U.S. theaters are open. And with many big theater chains on the verge of bankruptcy, not to mention the scores of independent cinemas that have been forced to shutter, it's unclear how many theaters will even survive through 2021.