coronavirus delays

With the coronavirus (aka COVID-19) continuing to spread around the world, the film industry is bracing for whiplash: after a record-breaking year at the box office in 2019, some analysts are predicting the virus could result in at least a $5 billion loss in 2020. The virus’s impact is already well underway: 70,000 theaters have been closed in China, the James Bond film No Time to Die delayed its global release by seven months yesterday, and even Baby Yoda toy deliveries might be delayed to the United States because Hasbro’s supply chain has been affected.

But will upcoming would-be blockbusters like F9, Wonder Woman 1984, and Black Widow follow in Bond’s footsteps and move their release dates as well? Here’s what the studios currently have planned.

According to Deadline, Disney is currently “adamant” that they will not move Black Widow‘s May 1 release date, despite rumblings that the studio could shift the Scarlett Johansson vehicle into the November 6 release slot currently held by Eternals and move Eternals to a 2021 release. Disney says they’re not going to budge, although I’m curious to see if they change their minds about that as the current release dates get a little closer. Asian markets are responsible for massive percentages of blockbuster movies’ worldwide box office totals, and Deadline goes as far as to say that it would be financially irresponsible for them to hold to those current dates. Disney, the reigning box office champion in Hollywood, could certainly afford to debut a movie to smaller-than-anticipated numbers, but their investors may not be thrilled at that prospect.

Universal is “officially not changing their May 22 release for F9,” Paramount has no plans to move The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, and Warner Bros. is keeping Scoob! on its leash for May 15 and plans to keep Wonder Woman 1984 on its current June 5 date.

But those dates could eventually change if the studios get spooked by rival films underperforming at the box office this month. A Quiet Place Part II, Onward, and Mulan have shifted some of their international release dates but kept their domestic ones intact because they’d already spent too much money on advertising, and Deadline suggests that other studios will be keeping a very close eye on those box office receipts to use as a barometer for how they should make decisions moving forward.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in more of the nitty-gritty details about how the coronavirus is impacting the film industry across the world, The Hollywood Reporter has a lengthy piece covering that topic that’s worth checking out. One of the most interesting bits to me involves how China plans to ease people back into movie theaters once the virus is a bit more contained. According to China’s Film Administration, here’s what they’re going to do:

Cinemas will be required to record the names and addresses of all moviegoers, check their temperatures, require the wearing of masks, make sure that there is one empty seat between patrons in every direction and sanitize public spaces regularly.

No timetable has been announced yet for when these measures might be put into practice, but with major companies pulling out of SXSW and the Cannes Film Festival seemingly floating in limbo, this may only be the beginning for the coronavirus’s impact on Hollywood and beyond. If you’ve read this far, maybe take a minute to wash your hands again.

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