With the majority of the world in lockdown mode from COVID-19, it will be a while before any of us see the inside of a movie theater again. For major studios, this means scrambling to figure out revised dates for their releases – a guessing game as to when things will go back to normal, and, more importantly, when their competitors’ films are coming out. In the case of blockbusters that have already been shot, such as No Time To Die (Daniel Craig’s final 007 adventure), Wonder Woman 1984 (Gal Gadot, ‘nuff said.), Black Widow (the MCU’s first female-led film), and A Quiet Place Part II (sshhh, monsters!), release dates have tentatively been pushed back to the 3rd and fourth quarters.
Given the current climate, this has been seen by some as premature, with some studios either pushing back an entire year (Sony) or considering straight-up digital releases for their upcoming lineups (Disney). However, this fails to take into account titles that were in the process of being shot when quarantine hit. This list will go over some of the biggest upcoming films that, quite honestly, you probably won’t be seeing anytime soon.
Original Release Date: March 9, 2020
New Release Date: August 2020
The latest of Disney’s attempts to bring new life into classic properties, Mulan is a reimagining of the inspiring 1998 animation that saw a young girl disguise herself as a man to protect her father in a time of war. With a cast led by Liu Yi Fei (The Forbidden Kingdom), Donnie Yen (Ip Man), and Tony Leung (Hard Boiled, Chungking Express) the film promises to lean more into historical fact that the much beloved musical version.
The move towards epic period battles has resulted in the banishment of the 1998 version’s more whimsical elements, with the most obvious being the lack of musical numbers and talking dragons. While we’re always up for epic historical warfare, especially whenever Donnie Yen’s involved, the new Mulan needs to be extra special if it’ll have any hope of topping the beloved original.
Original Release Date: July 2020
New Release Date: March 5, 2021
The 2016 Ghostbusters reboot may have been an entertaining, yet inconsequential affair, featuring fun sight gags and a killer cast, but ultimately far too much self-awareness to get over itself and the franchise’s vitriolic response to its existence. This and mixed reviews from critics led Sony to backtrack from following up on their female-led endeavor, deciding instead to push through on what fans had been asking for, literally, since 1989’s Ghostbusters II: a proper sequel.
A trailer released in December promised audiences a return to the real-world grounding of the original films; helmed by Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), whose father, Ivan Reitman (Twins, Space Jam) had directed the original, the trailer presented a tone and treatment reminiscent of its predecessors, with characters such as Chris Hemsworth’s (Thor, Extraction) unfathomably stupid receptionist nowhere to be found. With a plot seemingly built up around the world having largely forgotten about the Ghostbusters and their exploits, and Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) being a fan of theirs from the ‘80s, Afterlife could very well be the return to glory of the beloved characters, but we’ll have to wait until March next year to see it.
Original Release Date: May 22, 2020
New Release Date: April 2, 2021
After grossing billions at the box office with eight blockbuster films, one full-on spin-off (Hobbs and Shaw), and a barely-connected animated series (Netflix’s Spy Racers), the Fast and Furious crew have come a long way from stealing DVD players in the first film. With friction between Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Jumanji: The Next Level) and series mainstay Vin Diesel (The Pacifier) supposedly having been settled, WWE Superstar John Cena (Trainwreck) being added to the cast as Dom’s hitherto unseen brother, and, yes, HAN BEING FREAKING ALIVE (?!), anticipation for F9 remains high. A trailer released in February gave glimpses of the series’ signature blend of over-the-top action, physics-defying stunts, soap opera-level twists, and Diesel’s unmistakable monotone, and we honestly can’t wait till we see it all come together on the big screen.
Spiral: From the Book of Saw
Original Release Date: May 15, 2020
New Release Date: May 21, 2021
2018’s Halloween was that rare reboot that took an iconic character and successfully reinterpreted it for modern audiences, without forgetting what made the character a success in the first place. While eyebrows were raised when it was announced that funnyman Chris Rock (Lethal Weapon 4) was going to be making a new entry in the grisly Saw franchise (the ninth, for anyone keeping score), it bears remembering that comedian Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder) did the aforementioned Halloween reboot.
Thus far, reports have come in that Rock has successfully found a middle ground in reinventing the series while being faithful to what came before. At any rate, he’s bringing Samuel L. Jackson (Star Wars, Spider-Man: Far From Home) along for the ride, and that, by definition, always makes a movie more entertaining (last year’s godawful Shaft reboot, notwithstanding).
In the Heights
Original Release Date: June 26, 2020
New Release Date: June 18, 2021
For all the Lin-Manuel Miranda fans who are still on a Hamilton high, it’s interesting to note that, if not for the global pandemic, we’d all probably be singing In the Heights songs right now. As fate would have it, the latter got pushed back to net year, while Hamilton got bumped up 15 months from October 2021 to debut on the Disney+ platform last week.
The play that made him a star, In the Heights is set in Miranda’s childhood haunt of Washington Heights, New York, telling the story of a number of the neighborhood’s denizens, as recounted by local shopkeeper Usnavi (Anthony Ramos, A Star is Born). Intriguingly, the In the Heights adaptation is being headed up by Jon M. Chu, whose directorial chops are represented by the likes of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Step Up 2 and 3, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and Crazy Rich Asians. Now that is one hell of an eclectic resume, and one can’t wait to see what Chu and Miranda come up with for this movie.
Miranda is set to make some sort of cameo in the film, and as of this writing, he had this to say about the delay: “We had the best summer of our lives filming #IntheHeightsMovie last year. We gathered in Washington Heights and told this story, on location in this neighborhood, with our neighbors in our community. We couldn’t wait to share it with you. But we’re going to have to wait a little longer.”
Original Release Date: July 24, 2020
New Release Date: July 31, 2021
There was a time that turning Disneyland rides into films ranged from mediocre made-for-tv affairs (1997’s Tower of Terror), and derivative thrillers (2000’s Mission to Mars), to the just plain bizarre (The Country Bears, based on the eponymous Jamboree attraction). But then, in 2003, Hollywood super producer Jerry Bruckheimer (The Rock, Armageddon, Bad Boys) teamed up with director Gore Verbinski (the American remake of The Ring) and Johnny Depp (you know who he is) to turn The Pirates of the Caribbean into a blockbuster film series.
Since then, the House of Mouse has tried in vain to replicate their success, with only the middling Eddie Murphy comedy, The Haunted Mansion (2003), and expensive flop Tomorrowland (2015) to show for their efforts. Now, Walt Disney Studios looks set to try again, this time with an A-list star-powered version of the classic Jungle Cruise ride. Whether or not The Rock and Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place) can elevate this cruise from its source material, but hey, you never know.
Mission: Impossible 7
Original Release Date: July 23, 2021
New Release Date: November 2021
After the back-to-back successes of Rogue Nation (2015) and Fallout (2018) under Christopher McQuarrie, Tom Cruise has once again enlisted the services of his Jack Reacher director to helm not one, but two upcoming Mission: Impossible films. While McQuarrie promised stunts to dwarf anything previously seen in the series, production on the two films in Italy was halted back in February, spurring rumors that Cruise himself was quarantined in a hotel room (despite being in the United States at the time).
With a story reuniting Cruise with series regulars Simon Pegg (Star Trek Beyond), Rebecca Ferguson (The Greatest Showman), and Ving Rhames (Guardians of the Galaxy 2), along with franchise newcomers Haley Atwell (Avengers: Endgame), Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Dark Phoenix), and Pom Klementieff (Avengers: Infinity War), it’ll be a good year and a half before moviegoers get to see what daredevil shenanigans superspy Ethan Hunt gets up to.
The Matrix 4
Original Release Date: May 21, 2021
New Release Date(s): April 1, 2022
Originally set for release on the same day (May 22, 2021) as John Wick 4, the much awaited return of Neo has been moved an entire year to April 1, 2022. While set photos from the San Francisco Matrix set in February showed Carrie-Anne Moss and a bearded Reeves in action, the sequences scheduled to be shot in Berlin in March were understandably postponed when the quarantine began.
In addition to Reeves and Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, TV’s Watchmen) and Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl, TV’s How I Met Your Mother) join the cast. Sadly, while Joe Pantoliano (Bad Boys 3), who played Cypher in the original film, unsuccessfully lobbied to be included in this sequel, Agent Smith himself (Hugo Weaving, The Lord of the Rings) was unable to commit due to a scheduling conflict. Perhaps, with the global lockdown, he’ll be able to find a window in his schedule once the quarantine is over?
Meanwhile, John Wick: Chapter 3 ended on a cliffhanger, but Chapter 4 hasn’t even started shooting yet, so we have no idea if it will still make its May 21, 2021 release. Sadly, we just have to accept that we live in a world where two films of Keanu kicking butt (with guns – lots of guns) were not destined to be released on the same day.
Which of these movies are you itching to see the most?