With this global pandemic cratering most plans for theatrical releases this summer it seemed, for a while at least, that the movie business was out of business. Release schedules were jettisoned, movies pushed back, and for a scary bit of time, especially in the first weeks of the global lockdown, there seemed to be a void of content or at least a perceived void. However, this didn’t last long as all the streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and the others seemed to poised fill all the gaps.
As this happened we started seeing films like The Lovebirds appear on Netflix. This movie was originally set to come to theaters on April 3. With no theaters open it soon was set for a May 22nd release on Netflix. Shortly after this it was announced that Greyhound starring none other than a luminary like Tom Hanks would be released via Apple TV+. Now, with things around the world slowly starting to open up, it would seem that movie theaters would be suddenly filled with films, right? Wrong. With social distancing guidelines expected to be in place for quite some time longer, even with movie theaters opening in July, it’s going to be some time before every deserving film gets it proper date on the big screen. With that in mind, now seems like the perfect time to transition a host of theatrical releases to the various streaming services available.
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Original theatrical release date: July 17, 2020; July 31, 2020New release date: August 12, 2020
Christopher Nolan’s next film, Tenet, has had a rough ride. As the pandemic first started, Tenet was far enough away that the industry saw it as what would probably be one the first big tentpole films to would re-open the business of theatergoing across the country. Of course as the threat looms and movie theaters remain close, the release of Tenet keeps inching further and further away from summer. Of course, the movie would probably make a ton of money if it was released on VOD, as Christopher Nolan films are always highly anticipated, but Nolan himself has asserted many time that the movie needs to be experienced in a theatrical setting the way it was intended. Warner Bros. still has Tenet slated for theatrical release on August 12, but as the current state of the U.S. demands more shutdowns, there’s a low-likelihood of a release happening by then. Release it on VOD. We’ll watch it!
Original theatrical release date: March 9, 2020New release date: August 21, 2020
Disney’s live-action Mulan remake has held the same fate as Tenet in that it’s release date has seemed to have shifted just as many times in recent months. It makes sense why all of these movies would like to see massive theatrical returns from weekend to weekend, but Mulan in particular seems perfect for a Disney+ release right now. With Disney’s streaming service almost doubling it’s subscribers since the start of the lockdown, it seems like Mulan would take those counts to an even more astronomical number. At the last count, Disney+ had scored over 52M subscribers by April, while Netflix held at over 72M in the U.S. and 162M worldwide. Not bad for Disney+ which isn’t even a year old yet.
Original theatrical release date: June 12, 2020New release date: October 16, 2020
This new interpretation of the 1992 classic from director Nia DaCosta was initially set to bow on June 12. Now it is has pushed all the way back to September 25th. Why? Horror films like Hereditary and Ma are only a couple of examples of fright-fests that have been well received in the summer months. Normally, this is a time of tentpole films. With the tentpole seemingly jammed up for the moment, Candyman could be just the high profile, horror release to give us the scares we need. With this new film treading different ground as it’s characters unwittingly reawaken the story of Candyman, this terror-fest coming to our small screens could be a welcome respite from everything happening in the world right now.
The French Dispatch
Original theatrical release date: June 24, 2020New release date: October 16, 2020
A new offering from the whimsical Wes Anderson is the kind of film (as all his films are) that is ripe to be screened and re-screened. The French Dispatch tells multiple stories that are all centered around an American publication in France. In classic Wes Anderson-style, his big and bold strokes will seem to be minimalist in regards to the greater story being told. With a cast that boasts Timothee Chalamet, Elisabeth Moss, Saoirse Ronan, and Edward Norton (just to name a few), why not make this film available in July on Netflix, Hulu, or even Criterion as was originally intended? I’m sure one of those streaming services would be glad to pony up the money for it. This film’s theatrical prospects were no doubt going to be limited. Social distancing means that it’s audience prospects will even be more so when it comes out October 16th. Why not make The French Dispatch available to as large an audience as possible sooner rather than later?
Original theatrical release date: May 1, 2020New release date: November 6, 2020
Alright, we all know that there is no chance in hell that Disney is going to scuttle the billions of dollars they hope to make off Black Widow by putting it directly on a streaming service. At the same time, during these highly uncertain times it would be a pretty awesome gesture if the media giant did just that. This movie was going to arrive in theaters on May 1st. Now this tale of Natasha Romanoff as a freelance operative living in New York will bow November 6. A film this big will be a true test of how even tentpole films survive social distancing after movie theaters re-open. However, wouldn’t it be amazing if Disney+ offered it now. Didn’t they release Onward to the streamer like a week after it debuted on pay-per-view? Again, Black Widow isn’t going to be given away but there’s a lot of goodwill to be achieved if it was made available in some way this summer. Even as a Disney+ add on for a few dollars more would be really special.
No Time to Die
Original theatrical release date: April 2020New release date: November 20, 2020
Set to be Daniel Craig’s last turn as secret agent James Bond, No Time to Die was looking like it was going to be a special swan song. The movie was set for an April release, it would no doubt bring in buckets of loot, and then it would cruise to a record breaking summer for the franchise. Well, COVID-19 had other ideas and now No Time to Die has picked November 25th for its debut. The story here follows Bond in retirement. As one of the best agents in the world, he of course can’t stay that way, and soon finds himself battling a bad guy who hopes to destroy the world. Remember the days when we only had to think about that when we went to the movies? Why not bring some of those bygone days home by releasing the film in June, July or August? Heck, even a September release would qualify it for the summer, right? With the daily news being scarier than anything we’re likely to see from a streaming service, No Time to Die could find itself being an important film in this uncertain and scary time.
Bill & Ted Face the Music
Original theatrical release date: August 21, 2020New release date: August 28, 2020
Bill & Ted Face the Music has started the release date shuffle recently as well. Listen, we’ve been waiting 29 years for Bill & Ted 3 to come out. Of course we can wait longer, but why not save the universe right now and give us all a little bit of our sanity back? We need Bill & Ted more than ever right now and I’m sure tons of fans out there would absolutely be willing to put down a pretty penny to see these dudes.
Original theatrical release date: July 3, 2020New release date: December 11, 2020
Is there a better movie to come directly to streaming than Free Guy? This cyber-tale stars Ryan Reynolds as Guy. He thinks he’s your garden variety bank teller living a ho-hum life but it turns out he’s really in a savage video game. Initially, this movie was going to hit July 3rd but now it’s set to bow on December 11. Set in a virtual world, filled with thrills, chills, and major spills, why not have this film stream directly into viewers homes just like a download of Fortnite? Sure, this movie looks like it’s going to be highly bankable but, with the seeming shortage of big, budget, cinematic content being available, why not allow Free Guy to take over that space in the streaming field. Honestly, doesn’t it seem like more people would see the movie this way? I’m sure that 20th Century Studios could figure out multiple ancillary markets to not just make their money back but make a hefty profit.
Top Gun: Maverick
Original theatrical release date: June 26, 2020New release date: December 23, 2020
There’s no simpler way to say it… America needs to be uplifted right now and Top Gun: Maverick is the just the film to do it. Sure, it looks like an aged version of the original 1986 hit, but that won’t stop American’s from enjoying it in their homes if it was made available to stream this summer. Top Gun: Maverick sees Tom Cruise reprise his role as Pete Mitchell aka Maverick. He’s been dutifully serving the Navy since the last installment, but is he at a point where he needs to be grounded. Is this something Maverick can let happen? This is the big question, as well as many others, that audiences are being deprived of getting answers too this summer. Look, I know that Paramount spent gobs of money on this film. They need to make it back to please their shareholders and smooth over their balance sheets. If there’s one film that could be a beacon of hope in this uncertain time Top Gun: Maverick is it, and that’s why it should be seen sooner rather than later.
Original theatrical release date: 7/10/20New release date: 3/5/21
After the 2016 version of Ghostbusters didn’t connect with audiences, the folks behind Ghostbusters: Afterlife went a different route. This new version has more of a Stranger Things-vibe as it sees a multi-generational approach to the problem of unwelcome apparitions. Set to bow on July 10 we now have to wait until March 5, 2021 to see if Ghostbusters: Afterlife has the goods. Something tells me this film may not fair much better than the 2016 version. Why would they postpone its release this long if they didn’t plan to rework it in someway? All that said, since they’ve gone the Stranger Things route, why not go one step further and just drop this thing on Netflix in July? People would be stoked. It would give families a high profile film to watch this Summer, and they could do it all in the privacy of their own home. All of this seems like a win-win for everybody but mostly it’s just wishful thinking. There’s money to made on this film’s theatrical release.
The Many Saints of Newark
Original theatrical release date: 9/25/20New release date: 3/12/21
This early look at the life of Tony Soprano was initially set to be released on September 25. Now the film is listed as being « in post-production » and it’s slated for a March 12th release in 2021. That certainly seems a long time to wait to see how one of cable TV’s biggest mafiosos became « the Man. » Now, it is listed as being in post-production so perhaps the delay will ultimately be a good thing for the film? It’s a got a solid cast with Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, and Ray Liotta among others, so chances are this crime-drama will benefit from a little extra cooking. Still, it would be awesome if the movie spawned from the small screen sensation that was The Sopranos, ended up being the film that revolutionized how theatrical titles were brought to audiences? That’s another thing… because of how The Sopranos originated from the early days of cable shows, it has been one of the first offerings made available in streaming queues the world over. The audience for this film is built in like no other and would all but ensure The Many Saints of Newark a successful bow if it streamed this summer.
Original theatrical release date: 7/10/20; 7/31/20New release date: 3/19/21
Trailers for Morbius were already touting this as one of the films of the summer when it was set to come out July 31. Well, this summer had other ideas and now this tale of a biochemist turning himself into a vampire will be coming out March 19th of 2021. If this is movie is ready to go… and it certainly seems like it is, it really should come to one of the streaming platforms in July or August. Movie audiences seem to have a « love/hate » relationship with Jared Leto. Some people love him and other people can’t stand him. He’s obviously interesting to enough people as what else would explain him continuing to get movie role after movie role? These same movie goers are now exclusively movie streamers and, at least initially, they would tune in to watch Morbius if it was made available. Then it would either fizzle or it would become a sensation ala Bright. The point is is that if this movie was already being readied for a July release, why not cut a deal and give fans a film that could potentially soak up an even bigger audience?
Original theatrical release date: 5/22/20New release date: 4/2/21
Again, like Black Widow, this probably isn’t going to happen. F9, in whatever incarnation of international intrigue it now tackles, is simply too big of a movie to be dropped onto a streaming platform. However, if this happened it would be MASSIVE and it’s the kind of thing that could jumpstart a streaming service for Universal. First of all, audiences would watch this film again and again. Imagine it being available with all the other Fast & Furious movies? Also, as surprising as it is, after 8 movies this franchise continues to re-invent and recast itself. How else to explain the additions of such solid actors as Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren in recent years? Or, the plot line in F9 that sees Vin Diesel and John Cena as brothers AND adversaries? This movie was all set to take over May of this year. Why in the world are audiences having to wait until April 2021? Look, I know that this is all about money and positioning films to best perform in the marketplace, but F9 is the kind of movie that is worth a lot on any platform (theatrical, streaming, etc.). If a dollar amount can be met having this movie come to us this summer would go along way toward making 2020 at least a little better.
Original theatrical release date: 10/11/19; 7/24/20New release date: 7/30/21
A family film featuring Emily Blunt and The Rock… why wouldn’t Disney simply bring it out on Disney+ right now? I know that’s an oversimplification of the myriad of factors that go into a movies debut. At the same time, it was already set to come out this year and a family adventure film based on a popular Disney ride might be just what people need, right? The coolest thing about this tale is that the creators have thrown in a supernatural aspect so it plays on the lure of the ride and the mystique of the Disney name. Everybody has really been put through the ringer by this virus. Wouldn’t it be nice to take a cruise away from all the problems in the world even it was only for a few hours? Once again, I know that I am oversimplifying things but if any movie on this list could cure the quarantine ills and maybe make people feel a bit better in the process, Jungle Cruise might be it.
Minions: The Rise of Gru
Original theatrical release date: 7/3/21New release date: 7/2/21
Why wouldn’t this film come out this summer? It was already set to bow on July 3 so it is obviously ready to stream. At present it’s expected to bow a year from now. Obviously, Universal is hoping to really cash in on this movie. Sadly, the money from streaming, while hefty, probably wouldn’t pay back the film’s budget and all of the other associated costs with releasing a 4 quadrant, family film. At the same time, this is the kind of movie that is going to be watched again and again. With a story about Gru’s desire to be the world’s greatest supervillain at its core, Minions: The Rise of Gru, seems like it could really attract a lot of ancillary money. There’s toys, meal tie-ins, and just about everything else back up and running since America shut down. With Amazon currently serving as many people’s main mode of shopping, there surely could be a way for this movie to tie into that and take advantage of all that’s offered with such direct shipping. Ultimately, this film might not be as successful (monetarily) as it was originally thought to be. At the same time, Minions: The Rise Gru has a chance to be the biggest kid’s film of this crazy summer.
A Quiet Place Part II
Original theatrical release date: 3/18/20New release date: 9/4/20
A film about surviving in the outside world after essentially being confined at home might not be what most people want to watch right now. However, audiences LOVED A Quiet Place so it stands to reason that they would simply devour seeing where the remaining family members ended up after the events of the first film. I’m not saying that A Quiet Place Part II would calm people’s nerves or make them feel any better about their situation. What it might do is offer hope to those who are feeling quarantine fatigue. This movie was slated for a March 2020 release. At present its set to come out in September so it is technically a summer movie. It would just be really special to have this film available to us now on one of the streaming platforms. Lets be honest, family films are virtual slam-dunks, simply because of audience’s access to streaming. There are other members of the streaming population (a large percentage who might also love family films, too), that want something different, darker, and yet, hopeful. A Quiet Place Part II provides all of that and would be a welcome addition.
The New Mutants
Original theatrical release date: 4/13/18; 8/2/19; 4/3/20New release date: 8/28/20
This poor film has had a rough go seeing the light of day hasn’t it? With it’s tie to the X-Men world this horror/superhero film has seen its release date morph more times than the mutants in this film! Originally, it was supposed to come out on April 13, 2018. That date was ultimately pushed to February 19, 2019. From there it was slotted for an August 2, 2019 release. That didn’t hold and eventually it was moved to April 3, 2020. Now the plan sees it bowing on August 28, 2020. Alright, if I’m 20th Century Studios I cut a deal with Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ whoever… and get this film out there. Movie audiences today are savvier and have more access to information than ever before. They know that delays are generally because a film is a mess. Now, we all know that The New Mutants isn’t supposed to be Casablanca, but it does have a certain act to follow seeing as its a part of the X-Men series. So, to flip the script, release this film early, bring it to streaming, and give it a special life that it wouldn’t otherwise have.
Original theatrical release date: 10/23/20; 5/15/20New release date: 5/21/21
Anybody ready for another go round within the Saw franchise? Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson star in this horror tale that sees Rock as a veteran police officer investigating a series of odd murders. These murders are very similar to some earlier crimes which is where the connection to Saw comes in. As Rock and his young partner (Max Minghella) get deeper into this case, they find that the killer’s special game actually hits very close to home. Chris Rock in a fairly different role than one we have ever seen him in? Samuel L. Jackson spreading his wings in a crime, horror, mystery thriller? This movie was originally going to come out on May 15th. Why has it been pushed back over a year? Was it really not ready? Is the release schedule for movies too crowded? Again, this might be the case of a film being too big for streaming, but our summer could really get a jolt if one of the streamers was able to nab it. Again, aside from the goodwill it would provide in the aftermath of everybody’s summer plans being cratered, it would just be nice to delve back into the safe world of Saw given what our own world has become.
Original theatrical release date: April 17, 2020New release date: (None right now)
The always good Keri Russell and the enigmatic Jesse Plemons star in this horror tale that seems to have out-Netflixed the streaming giant. I say that because Antlers is exactly the kind of scare-fest that Netflix does well. Antlers tells the story of a brother and sister (Russell and Plemons) who stumble into a horror-mystery involving a little boy and the creature who haunts their simple Oregon city. The film was initially set to come out on April 17th and then, like all the films on this list. Well, with more people being asked to stay home than ever before, why not throw this tale on a streaming service and let it scare people for the rest of summer? This film is a clearly on the smaller scale (budgetwise), how much would it need to make a streaming release worth its while? Also, Guillermo del Toro is one of the producers on this (as well as David Goyer). That alone tells us that Antlers is going to be dark and mysterious in a way that a lot of other summer offerings are not. Why wait for a release date? Make it available now and it could be this summer’s Stranger Things.
Longtime Movieweb contributor that was uploading 1-minute movie reviews to the world wide web via AOL before Youtube or social media existed. I make tons of straight-to-video movies you can find at Amazon & Vimeo. DVDs are back and I like it!