MCN Commentary & Analysis

Movie Content Scoreboard: Episode 4 (Jan 21, 2020)

Seven months ago, I offered a list of planned theatrical releases that were “untouchable.” There were eighteen 2020 titles. I didn’t project into 2021.

Tenet and Mulan were theatrical release experiments back in September.

WarnerMedia released Wonder Woman 1984 day-n-date domestically and internationally in theaters… and after a month, they’ve done $143 million worldwide. Their other film on the list, Dune, doesn’t seem to want the day-n-date deal, even though the same company, Legendary, sold off 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong to the concept.

Disney pushed Soul to Disney+ and will release a 2021 animated film, Raya, on that platform with some kind of charge (for now), in the reflection of Mulan.

Universal pushed out The Croods: A New Age under their 17-day window deal with AMC. $136 million worldwide in theatrical, $40m of that total being domestic.

And sold off to streaming were Coming 2 America (Paramount 2 Amazon) and the animated Lord/Miller production, Connected (Sony to Netflix), retitled The Mitchells vs. The Machines.

That leaves eleven of the titles to be touched. A Quiet Place II, Black Widow, The Conjuring 3, Dune, The Eternals, Free Guy, The King’s Man, The Last Duel, No Time To Die, Top Gun: Maverick, and West Side Story.

But as people have started to realize, we aren’t out of the woods and the realistic, perhaps hopeful expectation is that enough Americans will have been inoculated by mid-summer to consider a real return to movie theaters… “Real” meaning up to 50% occupancy.

So now, the heads are on a swivel, trying to project what is coming for these eleven titles, other “untouchable” titles that were pushed well into 2021 when I made that list last July (F9, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Minions: The Rise of Gru, Jungle Cruise, and the 2021 titles of weight, like Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which has been placed between Black Widow and The Eternals… which may be flexible or not.)

Movies that can be sold at a profit that matches in-house projections for a proper theatrical as well as the windows beyond will be sold or thrown to streaming unless there is a strategic or relationship reason not to do do. But don’t mistake this statement of the obvious for an assumption that everything will go to streaming.

I count 13 significant studio titles scheduled for theatrical before July that are likely to jump to July and beyond, as the domestic inoculation level is promised to be at 115 million Americans by May.

MARCH
The King’s Man

APRIL
No Time To Die
Peter Rabbit 2
A Quiet Place Part II

MAY
Black Widow
Rumble
Marry Me
Free Guy
Cruella
F9

JUNE
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Luca
Venom 2

How “touchable” are they?

Rumble is the only title in this group that I am not sure about. Why? Because it’s a Paramount title. And who knows what they will do? They haven’t sold it to Netflix, which suggests it could possibly not be very good.

There are three other titles (Bob’s Burgers: The Movie, The Asset, Vivo) that seem open to… who knows what? And Bios, freshly moved-to-August.

And of course, WarnerMedia will be throwing away The Little Things, Mortal Kombat, In The Heights and Space Jam II in this same period.

If you believe that theatrical box office will remain at 60% availability in July, maybe you try to make a move with some of these titles that have not already been on the block. On the other hand, if you’re just a few months away and you have been betting on the value proposition of theatrical for three seasons already, why would you give up then?

Also, forget Paramount’s revamped streaming option as a landing spot for a cash cow like A Quiet Place 2. They aren’t in that game yet. And the reboot that will be Paramount+ has a lot of work simply to start rolling. Throwing expensive films into the marketing pond doesn’t make sense at this juncture.

Want to move to July? It’s already loaded to the gills…

JULY
Top Gun: Maverick
Minions 2
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
The Forever Purge
Uncharted
Old (Shyamalan)
Jungle Cruise

August isn’t as loaded. And long-held traditions about release dates are out the window.

June is Sony’s month. But they may have to abandon ship in the next week or two. (I fear that a new story may have dropped as I write this.)

I’d expect all the big May titles to shift before February 15. June is on Sony, mostly. And I expect July movies to sit tight until at least the Ides of March. Things will be clearer then… especially whether President Biden has achieved the million vaccines-a-week pledge. If he does, we will be past 175 million vaccinated Americans by the end of June. And there is hope in a number that big.

Meanwhile, there will be a sale or a shift every once in a while to spark our interest. But the big fever of last summer has come down to seven titles and Warners over the last nine months.

And away we go…

2 Responses to “Movie Content Scoreboard: Episode 4 (Jan 21, 2020)”

  1. Stella's Boy says:

    Fauci just said that if we can get a majority of Americans vaccinated by summer then things could return to normal/mostly normal by fall. That doesn’t seem too unrealistic at this point. How much are studios factoring that in when studying their calendar and making release date decisions? Or do they follow the lead of theaters? Or it that all of a piece? And have studios already determined what percentage of theaters need to be open before they feel comfortable releasing an “untouchable?” They are typically so risk-averse with their blockbusters and tentpoles. I wonder how they are making decisions right now. And for certain movies is there a fear that delaying them too many times or for too long could ultimately do more harm than good? Something like Bond is an exception. Delaying it for a year or two or three won’t hurt it. Too much name recognition and all that. But that isn’t necessarily the case for other titles.

  2. Bob Burns says:

    Some of these titles will be needed to fill the void left by the partial, but still substantial shutdown of production due to COVID.

    We are a couple of steps closer to reopening theaters, but I don’t think getting people vaccinated will be as quick and easy as is widely assumed… and theatrical will be near the last. Biden’s proposed health corps is exactly what is needed (needed for nearly a year), but that will take a while to put together, and even with the health corps, it will be difficult to get vaccination to 70% and new cases down to 10,000 a day.

    Really happy to see FYCs again….. so that these sites once again generate income for our hosts.

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