Cinema Industry Dealt Another Blow as Disney Postpones New Releases

By Adriaan Brits Thursday, September 24, 2020

This year has been incredibly difficult for the cinema industry. The companies were forced to close theatres in March due to lockdown measures and were able to reopen in July with social distancing measures.

The embattled cinema industry has been dealt another massive blow after the Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) said today it would postpone the release of the new “Black Widow” movie and Spielberg’s “West Side Story” until next year. In addition to that, many film releases were postponed because of the outbreak.

Film slate, reel, and face mask.

“Black Widow” and “West Side Story” Postponed for 2021

The two movies were two of the biggest releases on this year’s schedule in Hollywood. The superhero movie Black Widow was postponed by six months until May 2021, while West Side Story will hit cinemas in December 2021.

The decision is part of Disney’s effort to lure people back into cinemas. They were forced to close worldwide in March due to a coronavirus outbreak.

Cinemas remain closed in Los Angeles and New York, two cities with the largest number of moviegoers in the country. Major theatre chains like AMC Entertainment and Cineworld’s Regal Cinemas have reopened in other U.S. cities.

Other Hollywood major titles, including the new James Bond “No Time to Die” feature, are set to hit cinemas on November 20. “Wonder Woman 1984” was recently postponed until December 25.

Disney and other film studios have altered their film release schedules a couple of times as they’ve attempted to pick the best time to release the films because of the outbreak. Several films have even completely skipped cinemas and were released directly through streaming platforms.

Black Widow with Scarlet Johansson was first supposed to debut in May this year before Disney postponed it for November 6.

Apart from those films, Disney also delayed the release of Agatha Christie’s “Death on the Nile” to December 2020 from October, as well as another Marvel title, “Eternals,” to November 2021 from February 2021.

“Marvel made the right & responsible decision,” Kumail Nanjiani, who’s starring in “Eternals,” said.

“There’s a pandemic. Nothing is more important than health & lives. I can’t tell [people] to go to a movie theater until I feel safe going to one.”

Disney didn’t change the debut date for the new animated Pixar film “Soul,” which is set to debut on November 20.

Shares of Disney slipped 1% in premarket trading on Thursday.

Cineworld Reports a Record Loss

Cineworld (LON: CINE) reported a pre-tax loss of $1.6 billion in the first half through June 30, compared to a profit of £139.7 million ($162.6 million) a year ago. The company said the late performance in the recently reopened markets has been encouraging. Cineworld has over 700 cinemas across ten countries.

The firm’s sales plummeted 66.9% to $712.4 million. On the other hand, the company pointed to the scale of damage it suffered from the pandemic and talked about potential challenges in the future.

As Cineworld noted, “There can be no certainty as to the future impact of COVID-19 on the group. If governments were to strengthen restrictions on social gathering, which may therefore oblige us to close our estate again or further push back movie releases, it would have a negative impact on our financial performance and likely require the need to raise additional liquidity.”

At the moment, 561 out of 778 Cineworld’s cinemas are open. Mooky Greidinger, the CEO of the company, said:

“Current trading has been encouraging considering the circumstances. While there continues to be a lot of uncertainty, we have a dedicated and experienced team that is focused on managing business continuity while taking advantage of the strong slate currently planned for the months ahead.”

Shares of Cineworld plunged around 15% on a record half-year loss. Apart from the coronavirus outbreak, investors have been worried about the company’s debt and whether it had been overambitious with its expansion strategy in the United States.

Summary

The pandemic’s impact on the cinema industry has been so great that Cineworld reported a pretax loss of $1.6 billion for the first half of the year ending June 30. In another major blow, Disney postponed the release of “Black Widow” and Spielberg’s “West Side Story” movies until next year.

About the Author


Headshot for author Adriaan Brits

As an analyst of global affairs, Adriaan has an MSC from Oxford, with diverse interests in the digital economy, entertainment, and business. He is a specialist trainer in Advanced Analytics & Media.

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