At the beginning of 2020, moviegoers were looking forward to seeing titles like Dune, Black Widow, In the Heights, Jungle Cruise, Eternals and West Side Story as well as long-awaited sequels to Coming to America and Top Gun and the latest installments in the James Bond, Fast & Furious, Ghostbusters and Halloween franchises on the big screen.
But just a few months into the year, everything changed with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic. As movie theaters closed, the release date dominoes started falling. While some films hopscotched around the 2020 calendar before giving up on the year and planning a 2021 release, others swiftly shifted into the next year.
So as 2020 ends and 2021 begins, with its hope of a return to normal with the rollout of various COVID-19 vaccines, film fans are again hoping they can see a blockbuster tentpole on the big screen. But for those who are still hesitant, Warner Bros. is planning to release its full 2021 slate in theaters and on HBO Max and Paramount sold Coming 2 America to Amazon, allowing Eddie Murphy fans to catch his and Arsenio Hall’s many characters from the comfort of their own home.
Read on for more on the films that were set for a 2020 release but are now set to debut in a very crowded 2021.
Coming 2 America
Release date: March 5
The long-awaited sequel to the 1988 Eddie Murphy hit was set to be released by Paramount in December before the studio sold the star-studded comedy to Amazon in late November for $125 million. The decision, Paramount chairman Jim Gianopulos told The Hollywood Reporter was made “with enormous difficulty.” “We were beautifully positioned during the holiday season. It was counterprogramming to some of the other films that would have been on the schedule. There was a lot of heat on it. But we were faced with a reality, which is we had two full years of movies that were going to get crammed into probably a half a year of releases, the second half of ’21. And so we had to make choices.” The film follows Murphy’s Prince Akeem, now set to become king, returning to America to find the son his father tells him he has. The Craig Brewer-directed film reteams Murphy with original cast members Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Shari Headley and John Amos, with Murphy and Hall once again playing numerous characters. New cast members include Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, Jermaine Fowler, KiKi Layne and Teyana Taylor.
The King’s Man
Release date: March 12
Early in the pandemic, the Matthew Vaughn-directed prequel had a Sept. 18 release date, but by the end of the summer the 20th Century Studios film had been pushed into 2021. Still, that didn’t stop a high-end clothing collaboration with Mr Porter from debuting on Sept. 9 but some pieces were held back to coincide with the 2021 release. During the fall, The King’s Man‘s release date hopped around from February to March. The ensemble cast, for the film about the origins of the first independent intelligence agency, features Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Daniel Brühl and Djimon Hounsou.
Release date: March 19
Morbius was one of the first films to move into 2021 in the early days of the pandemic, with Sony announcing on March 30 that it was moving the Spider-Man spinoff, starring Jared Leto, from July 31, 2020 to March 19, 2021.
No Time to Die
Release date: April 2
No Time to Die was the first Hollywood tentpole to shift its global release plan due to the coronavirus outbreak, making the first of many moves — from April to Thanksgiving — in early March, before the World Health Organization had even labeled the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. The 25th James Bond was ultimately delayed to 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic. The film, in which star Daniel Craig will play 007 for the last time, is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and stars Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Christoph Waltz, Rami Malek, Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch. Appearing on The Tonight Show after the film’s latest delay was announced, Craig said of the pandemic, “This thing is just bigger than all of us. We want to release the movie at the same time all around the world and this isn’t the right time. So fingers cross April 2 is going to be our date.”
A Quiet Place Part II
Release date: April 23
The Quiet Place sequel, originally set for a March 20, 2020 theatrical release, had a glitzy red-carpet premiere screening in New York City just days before essential businesses in the Big Apple began shutting down. Star Emily Blunt later told THR of the eleventh-hour delay of the film directed by and starring husband John Krasinski, “Well, what happened with Quiet Place was so surreal. At some point, it became very clear that the writing was on the wall, and [John] insisted that we pull the movie. He called the studio saying, ‘You need to pull it right now. We’re not bringing this movie out.’ And then before too long, everyone was inside and I think it was surreal for everybody, not just for us.” After initially delaying the film to Sept. 4, Paramount shifted it again, to 2021, over the summer. Like the initial Quiet Place, Krasinski directed and stars in the sequel alongside Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe and Cillian Murphy.
Release date: May 7
The Marvel standalone, starring Scarlett Johansson as the titular superhero, was quickly shifted from its May 1, 2020 release date in the early days of the pandemic, as theaters closed throughout the U.S., first landing in November before moving into 2021. Despite speculation that the movie, which also stars Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz, would go directly to Disney+, during Disney’s investor day in December, executives indicated that the tentpole would get a traditional theatrical release.
Release date: May 21
The Ryan Reynolds-led sci-fi action-comedy about a non-player character in a video game who becomes self aware was initially set for a summer 2020 release before Disney’s 20th Century Studios shifted the title to December. In early October, the Free Guy team posted a video joking about whether the film would make its 2020 release date, and sure enough, just weeks later, the movie was moved into 2021. In addition to Reynolds, the Shawn Levy-directed title stars Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Taika Waititi.
Godzilla vs. Kong
Release date: May 21
Godzilla vs. Kong, which moved from Thanksgiving 2020 to May 21, 2021, is one of many Warner Bros. titles set to hit streamer HBO Max on the same day of its theatrical release. But before that news was announced, Netflix had offered more than $200 million for the monster movie from Legendary Pictures, which financed 75 percent of the film. Godzilla vs. Kong, directed by Adam Wingard, stars Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall and Kyle Chandler.
Release date: May 21
The Saw reboot starring Chris Rock saw its release date pushed a year in May. The film also stars Samuel L. Jackson and Max Minghella, as the latter’s rookie cop and Rock’s detective investigate murders reminiscent of a gruesome past, with Rock’s character at the center of the killer’s deadly game.
Release date: May 28
In mid-March, the ninth and penultimate Fast & Furious film sped out of 2020 and zoomed into 2021, initially nabbing the spot for the 10th and final installment in the franchise. F9‘s release was later delayed to May 28, the beginning of Memorial Day weekend. The film is directed by franchise veteran Justin Lin, with returning stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster and Helen Mirren. New additions to the franchise in the latest film include John Cena and Cardi B. Speaking to THR over the summer about Universal’s early decision to push F9 and Minions into 2021, the studio’s Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Donna Langley said, “We weren’t popular with exhibitors, but we knew it was probably going to be the best thing for the movies, and now of course we are very relieved that we did. We got prime real estate next summer, and we prevented a lot of headaches. We had certainty about some things when there is so much uncertainty. We wanted to nail things down as best we could.”
Release date: June 11
Unlike other titles that haunted the 2020 calendar, Ghostbusters: Afterlife quickly closed up shop in March and moved its spectral activity from July to 2021, but the film’s release date was later pushed further into the upcoming year, settling on June. Sony’s Jason Reitman-directed entry in the Ghostbusters franchise stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Paul Rudd and Finn Wolfhard.
In the Heights
Release date: June 18
In the Heights was supposed to be the Tony-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda Broadway musical everyone was talking about this summer, but the film adaptation, directed by Jon M. Chu, was delayed in the spring by almost a year, to June of 2021. The Warner Bros. title, like the rest of the studio’s 2021 slate, is set to stream on HBO Max the same day it hits the big screen. The film stars Anthony Ramos as a bodega owner who has mixed feelings about closing his store and going to his parents’ homeland of the Dominican Republic after he inherits his grandmother’s fortune. The film also stars Corey Hawkins, Jimmy Smits, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Stephanie Beatriz and Dascha Polanco.
Top Gun: Maverick
Release date: July 2
In early April, the long-awaited Tom Cruise sequel flew from its June 2020 release date to Christmas before breaking the 2021 barrier over the summer. In addition to Cruise, the Joseph Kosinski-directed film stars Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly, Glen Powell, Miles Teller and Jay Ellis. Speaking to THR earlier this year, Hamm, who’s seen a cut of the film, said of the delay, “Obviously, there was no way it was going to come out this summer because this summer has been canceled, but when they moved it to Christmas, I thought it felt like it needs to be a summer release. It just has that amazing Tom Cruise, tentpole blockbuster, summertime thing. It’s so good. It rides the line so perfectly between the nostalgia of the first one and the newness of this next chapter in the story. Obviously, Tom knocks it out of the park and all the young kids are great in it. It’s just a really good story. It’s the movie equivalent of a fist pump. You’re just like, ‘Yes!’ It’s exactly what it’s meant to be.”
Release date: July 30
Based on the Disneyland ride of the same name, the Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt starrer in early April sailed out of its summer 2020 release date and into another destination, a year later in 2021. The Jaume Collet-Serra-directed movie, set in the early 20th century, follows Johnson’s riverboat captain and Blunt’s scientist as they journey into the jungle to find the Tree of Life. Jack Whitehall, Edgar Ramirez, Jesse Plemons and Paul Giamatti round out the cast.
Release date: Aug. 27
The filmmakers behind Candyman kept saying his name in 2020, moving the release date of the spiritual sequel to the 1992 supernatural horror film from June further and further into the fall before planning to haunt moviegoers in 2021. The MGM and Universal film, directed by Nia DaCosta and produced by Jordan Peele, who penned the script with DaCosta and Win Rosenfield, takes place in the now-gentrified area surrounding Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing projects, where in the original film a grad student was investigating an urban legend about a hook-handed killer. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo and Vanessa Williams star. While a number of films have opted for streaming or premium VOD releases this year, the team behind Candyman is committed to a theatrical release. Peele, THR reported in September, played a prominent role in delaying the film’s release, worried about encouraging consumers to gather in an indoor theater amid the pandemic. Addressing the postponement on Twitter, DaCosta wrote, “We made Candyman to be seen in theaters. Not just for the spectacle but because the film is about community and stories–how they shape each other, how they shape us. It’s about the collective experience of trauma and joy, suffering and triumph and the stories we tell around it. We wanted the horror and humanity of Candyman to be experienced in a collective, a community, so we’re pushing Candyman to next year, to ensure that everyone can see the film, in theaters, and share in that experience.”
Death on the Nile
Release date: Sept. 17
The Kenneth Branagh-directed follow-up to Murder on the Orient Express and, like its predecessor, is based on an Agatha Christie novel of the same name, finds Branagh’s Hercule Poirot searching for a murderer while on vacation in Egypt. The film from Disney’s 20th Century Studios hopped around the fall 2020 calendar before it was pushed into 2021 in December. In addition to Branagh, the film stars Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French and Gal Gadot.
Release date: Oct. 1
Based on the groundbreaking 1965 Frank Herbert novel, Denis Villeneuve’s ambitious big-budget sci-fi film explores fate, politics, religion, ecology and war amid the backdrop of the planet Arrakis, known as Dune. Many have tried and failed to adapt the expansive, influential novel for the big screen, and it remains to be seen if Villeneuve, who directed and wrote the script with Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth, breaking the work into two films, has succeeded. Dune — which stars Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling and Stellan Skarsgard — was originally set to hit theaters on Dec. 18, 2020 before moving this fall to October of 2021.
Release date: Oct. 15
Over the summer, David Gordon Green’s follow up to his Jamie Lee Curtis-starring 2018 revival of the horror series canceled its 2020 plans, opting instead to scare moviegoers in October 2021. John Carpenter, who executive produces Halloween Kills, explained the delay in a letter from himself and Green posted on Twitter in July, writing that the team behind the film had “looked at the forecast of theatrical exhibition with obvious concern,” as they “discussed and struggled” with how best to present the film.
“If we release it in October of this year as planned, we have to face the reality that the film would be consumed in a compromised theatrical experience. After weighing our options, we have chosen to push the film’s theatrical release by one year,” Carpenter and Green wrote. In addition to a theatrical release, they wrote, an IMAX run is planned, and the follow-up Halloween Ends is in the works.
Release date: Nov. 5
The star-studded Marvel film, directed by Chloe Zhao, in April moved from its Nov. 6 release date to February 2021, subsequently shifting to later in the year. Eternals stars Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek and Kumail Nanjiani.
West Side Story
Release date: Dec. 10
Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake was delayed nearly a year, it was announced in September, shifting from Dec. 18, 2020 to Dec. 10 of the following year. The musical stars Ansel Elgort, The Prom‘s Ariana DeBose and newcomer Rachel Zegler.
Courtesy: The Hollywood Reporter