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: November 19, 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. The film has been delayed even further, to November 19, 2021, and will now be a great film to see during the Thanksgiving time.
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: October 8, 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 October 8. Hopefully by the film’s release, people will feel comfortable seeing this one in theaters.
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: July 9, 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 was originally scheduled for theatrical release in the United States on May 7, 2021, but the new release date is July 9th.
The delay of Black Widow causes a domino effect for upcoming Marvel films like Black Panther II and Thor: Love and Thunder.
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, were originally to be released during the holiday seasons in the years to come, possibly in conjunction with a new Star Wars trilogy. The next star wars film, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, was delayed until December 2023, taking Avatar 3‘s original release spot.
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.
Death on the Nile – Anticipated Release Date: February 11, 2022
Adapted from the 1937 Agatha Christie novel of the same name, Death on the Nile’s star-studded cast is truly top notch. In addition to the legendary comedy duo, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, actors like Russel Brand, Tom Bateman, Kenneth Branagh, Gal Gadot, Ali Fazel, and more will be featured in the new take on the “whodunit.” This is technically a follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express, which performed well in the box-office. Death on the Nile has already been adapted in 1978 and 2004, so it will be interesting to see how the film stacks up compared to other adaptations. Instead of October 2020, we’ll have to wait for Spring of 2022 to see the flick.
West Side Story – Anticipated Release Date: December 10, 2021
Steve Speilberg dusted off his director’s cap for this one. The highly anticipated remake was originally slated to come out one year prior to the current release date. It’s expected that the film will be following the Broadway play closer than the original film’s script, so this will be more of a reimagining than a straight up remake.
Early December is the start of Oscars season. So, with Speilberg’s direction, the diverse cast, and the original film’s 10 Oscars, the pressure must be high for the film to do well. The visuals look stunning so far, and hearing the film’s songs and score within the theater will be quite the theatrical experience. Mambo!
Halloween Kills – Anticipated Release Date: October 15, 2021
Another film delayed a year, but this time it’s not for Oscar season. Since the film’s title clearly works best in October, pushing back this film’s release date a year makes sense. Halloween Kills will be the fourteenth film in total. The lead actress and classic scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis is very excited to be back for this one. Another domino effect: the next film in the franchise, Halloween Ends, will be pushed back to October 2023. Both slasher films were filmed together after the success of the Halloween reboot from 2018.
The actress received flack for doing another one of these films from a Fox News analyst. They speculated that Curtis must be broke, but the actor notably clapped back on Twitter. “You grumpy goat. I sold Activia yogurt for seven year, I wasn’t broke.” The actor’s excitement gives us a lot to look forward to, not just for Halloween, but for new movies in general.