MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Memorial Day typically kicks off the blockbuster season at the box office but the coronavirus pandemic has Hollywood studios unsure about the future of their big summer releases.
Even as much of the country slowly begins to reopen, most movie theaters remain shut down and that is bad news for an industry hoping to cash in on the summer season.
Matt Donnelly of Variety Magazine calls it an “immeasurable” loss for movie studios because the pandemic has left Hollywood’s summer blockbusters up in the air.
Some, like Marvel’s “Black Widow” have been postponed for months. Others, like the latest “Fast and Furious” flick have moved all the way to next year.
“You’re talking about films that were built to potentially gross up to a billion dollars worldwide,” explained Donnelly.
It is income theaters and studios rely on and the loss comes at a time when customer loyalty seems fragile.
A recent survey found 70% of moviegoers would prefer to watch a new release from home while only 13% prefer the theater.
Just last week, the Tom Hanks World War II drama “Greyhound” dropped its June theater plans and will instead release on Apple TV Plus.
“It’s a pretty sort of deadly forecast for what theater owners here in the US are up against,” said Donnelly.
Still, at least one studio is moving ahead with their summer plans for now.
Warner Brothers intends to release Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” on July 17, in hopes of jumpstarting the box office.
Industry experts say if it is released, the film’s success or failure could signal if other would-be blockbusters will ultimately see the light of summer.
Warner Brothers says they have contingency plans for “Tenet” if theaters aren’t fully open by July, and could move the release date to August or beyond.