While virtually every studio has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Universal Studios has arguably suffered the most. After the abysmal box office failure of “Cats” in 2019, the studio was relying on a promising 2020 to bounce back. While “The Invisible Man” proved a box office success, the film’s theatrical run abruptly ended as it went to VOD. “The Hunt,” “Emma,” and, soon, “Trolls: World Tour” all suffered a similar fate, further minimizing Universal’s net profit. Not only is the studio resorting to VOD rentals to recoup some of their money, but the pandemic has wiped their summer blockbusters off the slate. Universal’s global moneymaker, “F9,” is delayed until 2021, and now, three more of their biggest films are suffering significant setbacks.
According to Variety, Universal is delaying the release of Illumination’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and “Sing 2” until 2021. Last week, “Minions 2” was pulled from the release calendar indefinitely, but will now hit theaters July 2, 2021. “Sing 2” previously held that summer release date, but will now open on Dec. 22, 2021, pushing back the adaptation of the Broadway hit “Wicked” indefinitely.
While many speculated that Universal would drop “Minions: The Rise of Gru” on VOD, the closure of Illumination’s studios in France ensured post-production would not be completed for a proper 2020 release.
Universal’s decision comes following Sony’s recent move to delay their 2020 releases such as “Morbius” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” to 2021. With the year’s summer blockbuster season all but abandoned and the fall/winter slate set to be overcrowded, the studios are making the necessary plans to ensure 2021 makes up for the lack of profits in 2020. And it’s not just the 2020 films that are affected by the coronavirus outbreak. With the inability to complete production and/or post-production, many of 2021’s biggest projects are suffering setbacks as well. It’s becoming more apparent that the industry will feel the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic for years to come.
Previously delayed projects such as “Black Widow,” “A Quiet Place Part II,” “Mulan,” and “The New Mutants” are still without a new release date, indicating the state of the 2020 calendar remains uncertain.