Many Hollywood movie premieres could be delayed as the vaccine rollout fails to hit key targets set by the Trump administration.
- James Bond's "No Time to Die" and Marvel's "Black Widow" are among films that are likely to be further delayed if vaccine distribution doesn't speed up.
- Sony has already chosen to delay Jared Leto's movie, "Morbius" from a March release to October.
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If the vaccine rollout does not pick up speed, Hollywood will likely be forced to delay some of its biggest slated blockbusters for 2021 - again.
President Donald Trump's administration forecast that, between December and January, 70 million vaccinations would be administered. As of Tuesday, only around 9 million had been administered.
While January does not have any scheduled blockbuster films, studios have plans to start bringing more movies to the box office, starting in March.
Big budget movies like Sony's "Cinderella," starring Camila Cabello, "The King's Man," a World War I-era prequel to the Kingsman series, and the adaptation "Chaos Walking," featuring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, are likely to see delays or morph into a video-on-demand debut due to their February and March release dates.
Sony's thriller "Morbius," focusing on Spider-Man's notorious foe and featuring Jared Leto, has already been delayed from March 19 to October 8.
Even films scheduled for later release dates in the spring are likely to see further delays or conform to a release on a streaming service like HBO Max or Disney+.
James Bond's "No Time to Die" and a "Quiet Place II" could be facing their second or third rescheduling, as these films were set to debut in the spring of 2020, during the nation's first lockdown.
For many of these films, a release to a limited audience at the few theaters that are operating under social-distancing restrictions or a release on video-on-demand is not feasible due to the scale of their budgets.
Marvel's "Black Widow," starring Scarlett Johansson, which is set to release in May, could miss out on hundreds of millions of dollars. As movie theaters continue to suffer under low attendance and state lockdowns, with the world's largest theater chain, AMC, near bankruptcy, the film would be likely to suffer from low ticket sales if released before the pandemic ends. A release through video-on-demand or through a streaming service is also unlikely to hit revenue targets, as Disney learned in September when "Mulan" appeared likely to miss target sales after it was released on Disney Plus for $29.99.
While an official budget has not been released for "Black Widow," Marvel movies typically feature a $150 to $200 million production budget. Franchise movies like "Avengers: Endgame" spend over $200 million in marketing alone, according to Deadline.
"Wonder Woman 1984" and "Mulan" had similar big budgets, before they were released on HBO Max and Disney Plus, respectively. However, "Black Widow" is unlikely to follow in Mulan's footsteps, after Disney executives shut down rumors of a Disney Plus release at a streaming event in December.
Disney and Sony are not the only companies facing delays. Several television shows in Los Angeles have paused filming after coronavirus infections in LA County surged. TV producers earlier this month decided to push production of shows like "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and "Grey's Anatomy" later into January.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said the vaccine will likely not be widely available until the middle of 2021, with widespread immunity to the coronavirus not anticipated in the US until the end of the year.
As one of the biggest industries impacted by the pandemic-related shutdowns, movie theaters officially opening across the country will be a major sign the nation is recovering from the pandemic. In the meantime, movie studios will be closely watching vaccine-distribution efforts in the US - and hoping to see an uptick as soon as possible.