While Warner Bros. and Disney have tested the waters at the box office with the releases of Tenet and The New Mutants, Sony Pictures will not be following in their footsteps. At least not any time soon. The studio has confirmed that it will not be releasing any major blockbusters in theaters until things return to normal, or at least something much closer to normal. That means movies like Venom 2 could be even further away than previously expected, depending on how things shake out.
The news comes directly from Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman Tony Vinciquerra. He was recently a guest at Bank of America's 2020 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference. During the conference, Vinciquerra addressed the notion of releasing blockbusters in the current marketplace, since theaters have been reopening in the U.S. and throughout much of the world. Here's what he had to say about it.
"What we won't do is make the mistake of putting a very, very expensive $200 million movie out in the market unless we're sure that theaters are open and operating at significant capacity."
While theaters are reopening there are quite a few caveats. For one, most theaters are operating at a significantly reduced capacity. In many cases, auditoriums are limited to 25 percent capacity. Plus, as we've seen with both Tenet and The New Mutants, these movies aren't pulling in what they otherwise might have been able to under typical conditions. With that in mind, Sony doesn't see it as worth the risk to release something like Ghostbusters: Afterlife until they are more certain they have a good chance of getting a reasonable return on investment at the box office.
Sony has a big lineup including Morbius, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Peter Rabbit 2 and Monster Hunter on deck. All of these, along with Ghostbusters: Afterlife, were previously set to arrive in 2020. But as theaters shut down, they were al delayed. It seems the release dates currently set are more tentative than anything. Speaking further, Tony Vinciquerra had this to add, suggesting that things will change, in terms of distribution, even once the world returns to normal.
"You'll see a lot of strange things happen over the next six months in how films are released, how they're scheduled, how they're marketed, but once we get back to normal, we will have learned a lot I think and found ways to do things that are somewhat different and hopefully better."
Luckily, Spider-Man 3 hasn't even filmed yet and is far enough away that Sony's strategy probably won't affect the current release plans. It's movies that are in the can awaiting release are the ones that will be most impacted. Even though blockbusters are off the table for now, Sony still has several smaller movies coming out in the near future. The Broken Hearts Gallery hits theaters this weekend, with The Last Shift set for September 25 and Yellow Rose currently on deck for October 9. This news was previously reported by The Wrap.