The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) reveals what the Black Widow delay means for business. It was announced earlier this week that Disney is making some pretty big changes to their upcoming release slate. The standalone Natasha Romanoff movie was supposed to already be out in theaters months ago, but it was pushed back to November. The highly anticipated Marvel Cinematic Universe project will now come out in May of 2021, and it's just another blow to movie theaters across the world in 2020.
Movie theaters in North America are just now starting to reopen their doors. However, there are some major markets like Los Angeles and New York that are still not open. It's unclear if another shutdown will happen between now and November, which is when Black Widow was supposed to come out. This uncertainty, plus a reluctance from theater goers to go to the movies at this time, is going to make for a trying time for theaters owners from here on out. NATO Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Patrick Corcorcan had this to say about the Black Widow delay.
"We need big movies... We'd hoped that Disney would hold on, but studios have to make their decisions based on their marketing spend and their marketing plan. If they aren't certain that theaters will be open, they're going to delay. We're gratified that they're moving and not going to Disney+. That's kind of an important statement. But until we get some of that certainty, we may be seeing theaters close back down again because it's really tough, if you don't have new movies coming in, to keep the lights on. To keep paying people. You lose money being closed, but you may end up losing more money if you can't get audiences in and you're open."
The decision to keep Black Widow on the big screen is huge for movie theaters that will be able to hold on until May 2021. Disney's live action adaptation of Mulan was taken directly to Disney+, which angered theater owners from all over the world. With that being said, Black Widow might just be the tip of the iceberg here when it comes to major delays. Patrick Corcorcan explains.
"Some theaters have lines of credit that they can tap and keep going until they have new movies. Some do not. Some may close and then that may be permanent for some, which means they'll either get bought by somebody else or they'll stay closed. We don't really know because it's such an individual company issue. But there's a lot of distress, a lot of worry for that. There are so many variables right now, it's hard to say what a worst or best case scenario is."
Christopher Nolan's Tenet is currently in theaters and it's not doing the kind of business it would normally have done during regular times. As of this writing, the movie has only made $36.1 domestically and $251 million globally. Warner Bros. took a gamble by putting the movie out during this uncertain time, which will more than likely influence what they do before the end of the year.
Warner Bros. still has Wonder Woman 1984 and Denis Villeneuve's highly anticipated Dune remake on the way, though it looks like they will probably end up delayed until 2021 too. Elsewhere, No Time to Die, Coming 2 America, Free Guy, and more are still on track to open, but could also get pushed back to 2021. This could be another major blow to theaters who are barely getting by at the moment. For now, we'll just have to wait and see, since things seem to change on a daily basis. Slash Film was the first to report on Patrick Corcorcan's statement.