Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures have given up on 2020 and moved the release date for "Top Gun: Maverick" to July 3, 2021.
Originally scheduled for June 24 of this year, the movie release was first moved to Dec. 23, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But plans to reopen theaters have been thwarted by the United States' failure to slow transmission of the novel coronavirus, and it's starting to look like some big theatrical releases will be opening overseas long before we're able to see them here in the USA.
Paramount also moved John Krasinski's horror sequel "A Quiet Place II" to April 23, 2021. The film was originally scheduled to open in March and had been widely screened for critics before the release was first delayed. Disney pulled the live-action remake of "Mulan" from its schedule altogether and delayed its upcoming (and as yet untitled) "Star Wars" movies and four "Avatar" sequels by a year for each title. We won't see "Avatar 2" until Christmas 2022 and no new "Star Wars" until December 2023.
You may ask why the studios don't just release all these movies direct to home video like they did with "Trolls World Tour" or "The King of Staten Island." It's a good question, and there are likely dozens of films that will either be sold to streamers such as Netflix or Apple TV+ (like "Greyhound") or released as on-demand rentals.
Based on a preview event held back in February, "Top Gun: Maverick" features some of the most spectacular flying footage ever filmed, and the surround sound mix is crucial to getting the full impact of the movie. Paramount screened only a few minutes of footage, and what it showed was breathtaking.
Movies like Christopher Nolan's spy thriller "Tenet," the James Bond movie "No Time to Die" and DC Universe sequel "Wonder Woman 1984" were engineered for theatrical viewing and large crowds. Studios want to wait to exhibit them as intended, no matter how painful the economic fallout may be in the meantime.
The other looming reality is that no one has any idea when film and television can return to production as usual. There are a few projects that have been reconfigured for safe and socially distanced filming, but the vast majority of films planned for the next few years can't be made under current conditions.
Studios are going to run out of new material sooner rather than later. It could be 2024 before our entertainment schedule returns to something resembling what seemed normal in 2019.
We'll all have to wait almost another year to learn exactly what the beef is between Maverick and Goose's son Rooster.
Wear a mask, keep your social distance and stay healthy so we can all enjoy "Top Gun: Maverick" together next summer.
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