Trailers for the latest 007 movie, No Time to Die, have been all over the Internet since late 2019. Its theatrical release has slipped from April, to November, to April 2021. And MGM says it will now slip again, to Oct. 8, a year and a half past the film’s first scheduled premiere.
The delay is yet another consequence of the pandemic, which has closed public entertainment venues around the world. The film industry has been struggling with the calculus of whether to release films to a reduced number of theaters with fewer patrons, or put them on streaming services, or not to release them at all until life returns to some sort of normalcy.
For studio blockbusters — which with marketing expenses can cost hundreds of millions of dollars — the decision of when to release is especially fraught and sales strategies have varied.
Pixar’s Soul skipped theaters entirely and debuted Christmas Day on the Disney Plus subscription streaming service. The industry newspaper Variety reported that Soul was the top-rated streamed show Christmas week.
Warner Bros. chose to release Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day, both in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.
But the 25th installment of the James Bond saga is being held for a happier time. So, too, is Dune from Warner Bros., now scheduled for release Oct. 1, a week before No Time to Die.
While some theaters have stayed open, hundreds have closed, notably more than 500 U.S. theaters of Regal Cinemas, which shut down temporarily starting Oct. 9. In addition to awaiting a relaxation of local regulations intended to mitigate the spread of the pandemic, Regal said reopening will depend on when “studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen.”