The coronavirus pandemic bled the cinema industry dry in 2020, causing unprecedented delays to several titles (full list here). Only a handful of films were released to audiences before cinemas across the globe were forced to close as early as March.
As lockdown restrictions eased, studios remained reluctant to challenge the pandemic. Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984 were the two biggest titles to attempt to weather the storm in August and December respectively. However, traditional blockbuster profits were squandered as a result, with Tenet earning a paltry $361 million – failing to break even against high production costs.
Though while many industry bigwigs had hoped for an improved landscape headed into 2021, things haven’t quite fallen into place thus far. Instead, we’ve already begun to see the year’s earliest titles retreat later into the calendar.
The King’s Man, No Time to Die, A Quiet Place II, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife has already confirmed new release dates. Inevitably, the likes of Black Widow and Fast and Furious 9 will also jump ship in the coming weeks.
The choice facing studios will be between pushing back their films (yet again) or turning towards streaming and video-on-demand platforms. Disney and Warner Bros. for example, each have their own subscription services to fall back on.
But the cinematic experience remains unrivalled. The surround sound and the wall-to-wall screens with crisp 4K technology cannot be compared to a home theatre. The safety concerns are there for sure, but you wouldn’t actively choose your own television over a cinema screen for a brand new blockbuster movie.
With that in mind, there are several films scheduled to release later this year that must stay true on their course for a big-screen cinema debut. That means no streaming, or at least to begin with. Let audiences experience them as they were meant to, even if it means an even longer wait.
1. Black Widow
First and foremost, Marvel Studios know the profitability of their content, hence the reluctance so far to move their latest instalment to Disney+. For me, it is also important to recognise how long fans have been waiting for a Black Widow solo movie.
Scarlett Johansson made her debut in the role in 2010’s Iron Man 2, later appearing in all four Avengers movies and both Captain America sequels. Yet a solo movie did not arrive or was even scheduled to arrive, until after the character met her untimely demise in Avengers: Endgame.
There would be significant demand for Black Widow if it were to arrive on Disney Plus rather than it’s current May 7 release, but fans have waited the best part of a decade already. They can wait a little longer.
The harsh reality with that patient approach though, is that any further delay to Black Widow means delays to the remainder of Marvel’s Phase Four slate. Still, it will all be worth that wait.
Warner Bros. has already caused a bit of tension by announcing that all of their 2021 movies will be streamed on their HBO Max service, which includes the highly-anticipated Dune.
The film by Denis Villeneuve has already been talked up as one of the movies of the year, and it deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible. It will certainly be the most immersive, blessed with stunning visuals and a killer score.
The current strategy is that Dune will open in cinemas on October 1, whilst streaming simultaneously on HBO Max for one month. So long as your local cinema is open, it’s really a no-brainer.
3. Godzilla vs. Kong
I’m going to go a little left field here. Godzilla vs. Kong might not be the biggest, or the most exciting title scheduled to arrive this year. Yet it is a monster movie, and it deserves a monster reception.
The previous instalments in Legendary’s MonsterVerse franchise had their flaws, but – particularly in the case of 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters – they boast strong visuals.
Meanwhile, the rivalry between Godzilla and King Kong dates as far back as 1962; so this modern adaptation of a classic storyline deserves the best.
4. No Time to Die
The newest addition to the James Bond franchise will be Daniel Craig’s last, and that’s why we deserve a big-screen rollout. Craig took over as Agent 007 for Casino Royale in 2006, and No Time to Die will be his fifth outing, wrapping up a storyline that will inevitably lead to his retirement.
The film had originally been scheduled for release in November 2019, but continued delays means were are now looking at an October debut.
Though Sean Connery was an excellent James Bond, many would argue that Craig is the best of the lot. With this, his last picture, the actor deserves to go out with a bang – one that only cinema can provide.
5. Mission: Impossible 7
There’s a real theme going on here, but you can see why. It’s about the spectacle of each of these titles, and unless you’ve got your hands on a state-of-the-art flatscreen television, it just wouldn’t be the same.
The stunts, the scale, and the general nature of the franchise make Mission: Impossible 7 your typical cinematic event. The previous instalment, Fallout (2018) was the highest-grossing film in the franchise at $791 million worldwide.
Even at six movies, the franchise has shown that it can only get better, so under no circumstances should studio executives be looking to move this one away from the big screen.
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