‘F9’ Release Delayed By One Month — Will It Lead To Another Cascade Of Postponements?

by Erik Amaya

The often delayed F9 — the ninth film in Universal’s Fast and Furious film cycle — has been delayed again; decamping from Memorial Day weekend to June 25th.

And while a month’s delay might be seem small potatoes after the studio held it back a full year, it may be the beginning of another series of cascade postponements. As Variety points out, the $200 million dollar film still needs a big opening weekend despite all the COVID-related factors decreasing capacity in theaters and audiences interest in braving the outside to see a movie.

Vaccine rollout is projected to be wide by May and theaters in major markets are expected to be open by then, but perception is as much an issue as anything else in this situation. A $12 million opening weekend — like the one Tom & Jerry enjoyed last week — would look like abject failure for F9 despite all the mitigating circumstances. This was the initial reason No Time to Die backed away from its April opening last year. Even if the COVID-19 virus had not been the killer it turned out to be, a depressed international opening for a James Bond picture would be perceived as failure on the studio’s part because our economic systems are the way they are. Perception is as important as the ledger and a poor box office showing in the middle of a plague would not be blamed on the plague.

Which means Universal is counting on more restrictions to be lifted by mid-June. We’re … not so sure. Of course, we always go with the least optimistic projection on things, which is why we now expect the first in-person comic convention to be WonderCon 2022. We also expect other studios to be as dubious about a return to full-capacity screenings. Although, Disney seems committed to releasing Black Widow in two months; which is an encouraging sign.

Nonetheless, we would not be surprised if F9‘s new delay sets off another series of postponements for films like Top Gun: Maverick with huge price tags and a lack of Marvel’s baked-in interest. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if No Time To Die moves again to 2022.

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