Another massive blow has been dealt to the movie business in 2020. Disney has shuffled around its release calendar, moving some of the few major releases left on the calendar well into 2021. Among the biggest changes is Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake, which has now been delayed a full year. As a result, there are even fewer big releases coming down the pipeline to help bring much-needed business to theaters.
West Side Story, which stars Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler in the lead roles, was originally set to arrive on December 18. Instead, it will now arrive on December 10, 2021. The date suggests that Disney sees the Steven Spielberg remake of the Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim as an awards season contender. The previous 1961 movie was a huge hit that went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars.
Other moves include Death on the Nile, a follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express. Director Kenneth Branagh’s thriller will now arrive on December 18, taking over the old date occupied by West Side Story. It had previously been dated for October 23. There has been some hope that the situation will improve by December, which might encourage more moviegoers to head to their local theaters and provide a boost to the box office. The Empty Man, an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name, will take over the October 23 date. Director Adrian Lyne’ Deep Water has also moved out of 2020. It will now hit theaters on August 13, 2021.
Also of note; Pixar’s Soul is still scheduled to arrive on November 20. It had previously been speculated that Disney might delay it, or possibly shift the release to Disney+, similar to what was done with Mulan recently. Soul, which stars Jamie Foxx, will open against the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die. MGM has stuck to its guns so far on the release for No Time to Die. Though one of these movies could shift ahead of November to avoid getting in the way of one another.
Disney also delayed three huge Marvel movies, with Black Widow moving to May 2021. Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings were pushed to later next year as well as a result. The big takeaway here is that Disney remains committed to theatrical releases. Even though Mulan tested the waters with a premium VOD release on Disney+, with what the company dubbed “Premier Access,” it doesn’t appear to be a trend. Mulan is available for $30 on top of the Disney+ subscription fee.
In the long run, this is good news for theaters as it means big movies will be back at some point. In the short term, it leaves few blockbusters on the calendar for 2020, with Wonder Woman 1984, DuneThe Croods 2 and Free Guy still dated between now and December. But one or more of those could, and likely will, move as well, possibly in reaction to these recent moves from Disney Studios official website.