What Sony's Delays Mean for Packed 2021 Schedule

On Monday, Sony Pictures made some major changes to their upcoming film release schedule. Three of its films originally set for 2020 release -- Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the Marvel Comics-inspired Morbius, and Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway -- had their release dates shifted into 2021 while two films set for 2021 release also saw changes. The Tom Holland-starring Uncharted moved from March 5, 2021 to October 8, 2021 and an Untitled Sony Marvel project is now simply TBD. For those looking forward to any and all of those films, the shift in release date was disappointing, but unfortunately an all-too common sign of the times as the coronavirus pandemic continues to leave big questions marks as to when life and the entertainment industry will get back to business as usual. The delays also prompt another major question: what does it mean for the already packed 2021 movie release schedule?

Before the spread of COVID-19 rocked Hollywood and nearly every other aspect of daily life, the new movie release schedule for 2021 was looking like a great year for movies. Films like The Batman, Jurassic World: Dominion, Thor: Love and Thunder, The Matrix 4, Avatar 2, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Black Adam were just a few of the major movies set for release at various points throughout the year -- there are many more! To put it in extremely simple terms, you could throw a dart at a calendar, hit nearly any weekend of the year, and have some exciting major movie to choose from at theaters and that may be a problem.

While those exciting 2021 releases remain on the schedule, in early March coronavirus concerns started changing the slate for 2020 with various films making their way to 2021. Fast & Furious 9 was among the earliest films to move to 2021. Now Sony has pushed many of their films. It's mind boggling just looking at the schedule and trying to make sense of it to write this article. If it's overwhelming just thinking about it, it could very well end up being overwhelming for moviegoers when it comes to choosing where to spend their hard-earned money on tickets.

That itself could ultimately lead studios to jostle their schedules even further, perhaps pushing back movies slated for 2021 initially to dates further out -- maybe even into 2022 -- to better space out their freshly shuffled release schedule. Specifically in terms of Sony releases, we may see some of their 2021 films -- potentially even the third Tom Holland Spider-Man film expected in July 2021 -- moved further out. It's something that would make sense from an economic perspective, for certain. Not only would delaying some films a bit further would potentially prompt better ticket sales if moviegoers don't feel so overwhelmed, but shuffling some of the films that have better box office potential to start with might be a good move as the economic hit pandemic-related shutdowns have had across the board could prompt a little bit of a lag in people returning to theaters as they recover from the financial hits to their own bottom lines.

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It's also worth considering that we don't really know when the pandemic will end and, even if it does end relatively soon, people may stay away from crowds -- including movie theaters -- for a bit of time after as a precaution. There's some precedent for this line of thought. Chinese theaters reopened briefly reopened earlier this month, but ticket sales were extremely low. Theaters were also closed down again just a few days later. More delays in film releases could well come should something similar be expected here.

Ultimately while everything entertainment is in flux day to day at this point, Sony's delays generally just mean that a packed 2021 schedule just got a bit fuller and that it's very likely additional delays are to be expected -- especially for films already set for 2021. It will be very interesting to see where things finally land once things begin to get back to business as usual.