Updated: Sep 18, 2022
By Aron Shklar
World News Editor
When COVID-19 arrived in the US and tore across the nation, movie theaters were one of the first businesses to shut down, preventing people from watching summer blockbusters. Soon, the entertainment industry began to suffer casualties as massive numbers of movies were delayed, first by weeks, then by months, and in some cases, by years. Movie titans such as Disney Studios, Warner Bros. Entertainment, and Universal Pictures (owners of Marvel Studios, DC Entertainment, and the Fast and Furious franchise, respectively), delayed their theatrical releases. From there, a downward slope began, one that could change the movie and movie theater industries forever. In early March, the upcoming James Bond film, No Time To Die, was the first movie to be delayed, from April 10th to November 25th in the US, before being moved up to November 20th. From there, as the pandemic spread across the country, more movies followed in the footsteps of No Time To Die. The next was Fast and Furious 9, also known as F9, delayed by 11 months, from May 2020 all the way to April 2, 2021. Several more movie delays followed, such as A Quiet Place 2 (delayed to September 4th, before being further delayed to April 23, 2021) and Disney’s live-action Mulan (July 24th, then to August 21st, and finally September 3rd on Disney+). Among other Disney projects to be delayed were upcoming Marvel movies such as, Black Widow, The Eternals, and all of Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But among all these delays, one movie has had an extremely unique journey.
That movie is Tenet, a reverse time-travel sci-fi action movie from director Christopher Nolan, director of The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, and others. When movies started to be delayed, Nolan was clear that Tenet would release only in theaters, and Warner Bros. agreed with him. However, as the pandemic became worse, and other movies were delayed, discussions about delaying Tenet began. Originally slated to come out July 17th, it was then pushed back to July 31st. Soon after that, it was delayed to August 12th, and was then announced to be delayed indefinitely. Now it is set to debut in international theaters on August 26th, and certain US cities on September 3rd.
However, another major question remains: “What will the impact on cinemas be?” Some cinemas, like one in Paris, France, have unveiled new seating designs fit for a pandemic-scarred society. Others, however, may not be so fortunate and will have to shut down permanently. For example, the massive cinema chain AMC claims that “substantial doubt exists about our ability to continue,” according to CBS News. It’s not only large international chains that are in trouble. Small, independent local theaters could be hit even harder. Ethan Auritt, ‘22, says, “I’m especially concerned for local independent movie theaters that may not have the funds to open back up when the pandemic is extinguished. Independent cinema plays a major part in my life so I have to stay optimistic for the future of the film industry.” If you want to help, think of any small local theater in your area. See if you can donate to it or do something to help it stay afloat through the pandemic.
In the end, this summer has looked very different without summer blockbusters.
Many big-name and big-budget companies delayed their movies, some by months, some by almost a year or more. At least one movie had an eventful and confusing journey to its current debut. There will be a lasting impact on cinemas internationally, but what that impact will be remains to be seen. And remember, help out your local theater however you can.