US-based entertainment giant Warner Bros says it is delaying the release of Dune and The Batman movies, another setback for an industry hit by coronavirus pandemic lockdowns and physical distancing measures that have closed theatres worldwide.
Dune, a science-fiction movie directed by Canadian director Dennis Villeneuve, is now scheduled to open in October 2021, instead of December. The release of The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson, has been moved to 2022 from October 2021.
Movie releases have been getting delayed even after restrictions were eased, with people still wary of stepping into cinema halls, and many theatres still not operational.
On Monday, the world’s second-biggest cinema chain, Cineworld, decided to temporarily close its UK and US movie theatres in an attempt to survive a collapse in filmmaking and cinema-going.
Credit rating agency Fitch promptly downgraded the company.
“Our base-case forecasts indicate that, the company’s current liquidity levels may only be sufficient until November to December 2020, assuming no revolving credit facility extensions,” Fitch said in a statement.
Filming of The Batman had been suspended for two weeks after a member of the production – widely reported to be Pattinson – tested positive for the new coronavirus. It resumed in the UK last month and Warner Bros never confirmed or denied reports about Pattinson’s diagnosis.
Dune has gained a lot of attention for its cast that includes 24-year-old Timothee Chalamet, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the 2017 film Call Me by Your Name.
Other big-budget Warner Bros movies to have their releases delayed included Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984.
The release of the new James Bond movie No Time to Die from MGM and Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures has also been delayed until April 2021.