Studios Are Pushing Back a Bunch of Releases Because of Low Theater Attendance

The delta variant is temporarily grounding ’Top Gun: Maverick’ and other big movies

The pandemic wreaked havoc on Hollywood’s movie release schedule for over a year and now, with the mutant delta variant triggering a resurgence of the bad old days, it’s Tom Cruise’s turn to play the COVID shuffle as both of his upcoming tentpoles are put on hold.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Paramount has pushed Top Gun: Maverick from its November 19, 2021, release date to an emergency landing on May 27, 2022. Unfortunately, that coveted May date was already reserved for whatever they’ll call Cruise’s seventh Mission: Impossible, so fans will now have to wait until September 30 of next year to see the agile action star leaping from his favorite far-flung skyscrapers.

The next domino to fall at Paramount is Jackass Forever, which the studio is moving from a prime October 22, 2021 Halloween season spot to a wintry “dump month” on February 4, 2022. Sony, meanwhile, rescheduled Ghostbusters: Afterlife from a November 11 release to take the now-vacant Jackass slot shortly after Paramount announced its move.

While studios like Warner Bros. and Disney have tried giving major films hybrid releases in both theaters and on home streaming services simultaneously—causing Scarlett Johansson to sue the Mouse House over lost profits—Paramount has mostly avoided that strategy, for instance clinging to a theatrical release only for A Quiet Place Part II.

Paramount distribution exec Chris Aronson addressed the studio’s Quiet Place gamble last week at CinemaCon, the convention for theater owners.

“That doesn’t mean that decision is the right decision for every film,” he told THR, but added that “the underlying principle couldn’t be more clear: The theatrical experience is irreplaceable.”

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