These Are the Major Film Releases Delayed by the COVID-19 Pandemic Until 2021 (or Longer!)
When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, many industries took a major hit — including movie studios and theaters. It makes sense in terms of filming, with actors getting face to face unable to wear masks in their shots, but our ability to watch films certainly spurred an impactful transition in the industry, too. With many people staying indoors due to shelter-in-place orders and only venturing out for necessities, not to see movies, studios have had to delay major theatrical releases or cancel them entirely. Many movies released in 2020 have also been pushed to streaming services or released on demand for families to enjoy from the comfort of their homes.
The pandemic is ongoing with no clear end in sight. Studios are continuing to push back not only releases of some of their most anticipated films, but also their production and editing. If there was a movie release you were looking forward to in 2020, there’s a good chance it’s been pushed back into the new year or beyond. These are some of the major films that have been delayed, along with details on when you can potentially expect to watch them — keeping in mind that they may change as the pandemic’s effects continue to shift, too.
Top Gun: Maverick - Anticipated Release Date: July 2, 2021
Thirty years after the original Top Gun premiered in theaters, the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, was originally scheduled to premiere in July of 2019. However, production still had to work out some details of the complex flight sequences, and the movie’s release was subsequently delayed to June of 2020. Then, Paramount Pictures pushed the film to December 23, 2020, due to the ongoing pandemic. After a spike in cases and due to scheduling conflicts with star Tom Cruise, the studio pushed the release back once more, this time to July 2, 2021.
Cruise will fly again as he reprises his role as Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. Val Kilmer will also return to the sequel, and Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly and Jon Hamm will be making appearances. Currently, the film is set for a theatrical release only, barring any future postponements.
Respect - Anticipated Release Date: August 13, 2021
Aretha Franklin fans were ecstatic to see teasers for the late singer's upcoming biopic, which stars Jennifer Hudson as Franklin. The film, which also stars Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald and Mary J. Blige, provides an inside look at the rise of the legendary singer, who passed away in 2018.
Respect is currently scheduled for release in theaters in the United States on August 13, 2021. It was originally scheduled for release on January 15, 2021, and before that, it was even set to begin a limited release on December 25, 2020. It also had earlier release dates set for August and October of 2020. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic definitely created a release-date roller coaster for this biographical film.
No Time to Die - Anticipated Release Date: April 2, 2021
Before the pandemic, the latest James Bond flick was slated for release in April of 2020. However, that date was called off in March because of the growing coronavirus outbreak. It was the first film to be delayed due to COVID-19, but certainly not the last.
The spy film features Daniel Craig in his final outing playing the famed British MI6 agent James Bond, alongside Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright and Ralph Fiennes reprising their roles from previous films. No Time to Die is currently set to be released in theaters on April 2, 2021, with hopes that more people will be able to see the movie in person by that time.
Candyman - Anticipated Release Date: August 27, 2021
Jordan Peele's slasher film, Candyman (a sequel to the 1992 film and the fourth overall in the horror series), was originally set for release in June 2020. After being pushed to September 25, 2020, and then again to October 16, 2020, the film has been delayed once more — now to August 27, 2021, with hopes for a full theatrical release.
Directed by Nia DaCosta, the horror flick follows the story of the Candyman, a supernatural killer with a hook for a hand who’s easily summoned by anyone who repeats his name five times while standing in front of a mirror. Though believed to simply be a scary ghost story, the legend of the Candyman comes to life in this film in Chicago's Cabrini Green public housing. The film stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonna Parris and Tony Todd — the original Candyman.
Jurassic Park: Dominion - Anticipated Release Date: June 10, 2022
This third installment of the Jurassic World series and the sixth overall Jurassic Park movie has actually been in the works since 2014 — and it still has one of the latest anticipated release dates out of all these upcoming films. Fortunately, fans of the franchise will be excited to learn that Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Jeff Goldblum will reprise their roles from the previous films, and Sam Neill and Laura Dern will also make appearances.
The film was previously set to be released on June 11, 2021, and production officially began in February of 2020. However, filming was put on hiatus just a month later as a safety precaution due to the pandemic. Production resumed in July 2020 and concluded four months later in November. Due to the delays, however, Universal Pictures has pushed the theatrical release all the way to June 10, 2022. Hopefully, good things come to dino-philiacs who wait.
Black Widow - Anticipated Release Date: May 7, 2021
Scarlett Johansson is starring in her own superhero film playing Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, in one of the latest installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Set after 2016's Captain America: Civil War, the film will showcase Romanoff confronting her past history as a spy and dealing with the damage that role caused before she became an Avenger.
Black Widow was delayed twice after its original May 2020 release date because of the pandemic — after the first postponement, it was originally set to play in theaters starting November 6, 2020. It’s currently scheduled for theatrical release in the United States on May 7, 2021.
Godzilla vs. Kong - Anticipated Release Date: May 21, 2021
Godzilla vs. Kong will see the legendary monsters battle it out while "a human conspiracy threatens to wipe the creatures, both good and bad, from the face of the earth forever," according to the official plot synopsis. The film boasts big names like Alexander Skarsgård and Millie Bobby Brown, alongside Kyle Chandler, Brian Tyree Henry and Eiza González.
This was originally supposed to premiere in November of 2020. However, due to the pandemic, the release was pushed to May 21, 2021. Initially, Warner Bros. planned to release the film in 2D, 3D and IMAX theaters only. Reports state, however, that the studio has made a deal with HBO Max to stream the movie — along with the rest of the company’s entire 2021 release lineup — for a month while it plays in theaters.
Avatar 2 - Anticipated Release Date: December 16, 2022
This follow-up to James Cameron's 2009 film Avatar has been in the works for over a decade now. So, fans of the original film have been used to the delays on the sequel, which was finally set to be released around Christmas of 2021. However, it’s been pushed back yet again, because of the public health crisis, to December 16, 2022. Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana, among other actors from the original film, will reprise their roles.
Interestingly enough, both Avatar 2 and Avatar 3, the third offering in the series, have completed principal filming. Avatar 3, 4 and 5, will be released during the holiday seasons in the years to come, possibly in conjunction with a new Star Wars trilogy. Avatar 2 will arrive in 2022, Avatar 3 in 2024, Avatar 4 in 2026 and Avatar 5 in 2028. However, considering that Avatar 2’s release has been pushed back at least eight times at this point, it’s entirely possible that this sequel’s arrival may be delayed yet again — pandemic or not.