(Updated October 9, 2020) It is in times of adversity that art becomes an escape. Cinephiles across the world have had all the time to spare lately, to binge watch their favourite films. Even the lesser fans of cinema turn to films for escape, in times like these.
2020 has been a difficult year for the film industry worldwide. While several films are suffering delays and indefinite postponements, others are slated for digital releases. Some of these have managed to get a release date for 2020, while others have been moved to 2021. Here are all the films I’m looking out for in what could be the least profitable year for cinema in the longest time:
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1. Grey Hound (July 10, 2020)
A war-drama centered around the 1955 novel The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester, Grey Hound is written by Tom Hanks and directed by Aaron Schneider. After several delays, the film finally streamed on Apple TV July 10, 2020.
2. Mulan (December 4, 2020)
Mulan was earlier set to release on March 27. It is based on the Chinese folklore titled The Ballad Of Mulan. It was delayed due to several other controversial reasons other than the pandemic. A Walt Disney production, the film is a live action adaptation of Disney’s 1998 animated film by the same name. Directed by Niki Caro, this long-awaited action–drama is headed for a December 4, release on Disney+ Hotstar.
The single most awaited film of 2020 was only meant to be a big screen release. The Christopher Nolan spy film is premised around an operative of an organisation known as Tenet which is tasked with preventing World War 3. The film stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh, and Nolan regular Michael Caine. The film also generated music buzz recently on Twitter for featuring Indian actor Dimple Kapadia.
4. Bill and Ted Face the Music (August 28, 2020)
The third film in the Bill and Ted franchise, this science fiction comedy film directed by Dean Pariso stars Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and William Sadler in key roles. The premise of the film is based on a warning given to Bill and Ted by a visitor from the future, which leads them into creating a piece of music that will save the world.
5. The One and Only Ivan (August 21, 2020)
Based on the children’s novel of the same name by K. A. Applegate, this film premiered on Disney+ August 21. The story is centered around a gorilla’s unusual friendship with a baby elephant. The animated film adaptation features voices of stars like Sam Rockwell, Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito, Helen Mirren, and Bryan Cranston.
6. Antebellum (September 18, 2020)
Written and directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, the American horror film was originally slated for April 2020 release. It finally released through VoD September 18, 2020 in the US and theatrically in several other countries. The film is about a successful author who gets trapped in a macabre reality, from which she must find a way to break free.
7. The New Mutants (November 17, 2020)
This particular film has been subject to a host of delays even before the COVID-19 pandemic. It was originally slated for a 2018 release, and has traversed a long journey of four successive changes in its release date. The film is being referred to as ‘cursed’ due to the many ill-fated delays. It centers around a group of young mutants held in a secret facility, who are forced to fight to save themselves. Directed by Josh Boone, this superhero horror film is based on the Marvel Comics team of the same name. 20th Century Fox will finally the film on Digital HD and Blu-ray on November 17.
8. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (June 4, 2021)
This is the third installment of The Conjuring franchise and the eight film in the overall Conjuring Universe franchise. Directed by Michael Chaves, the film is set for a release mid next year. According to Warner Bros Pictures, ‘The Devil Made Me Do It reveals a chilling story of terror, murder and unknown evil that shocked even experienced real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren’. It is anticipated as one of the most sensational cases from their files, which starts with them fighting for the soul of a young boy. That eventually transports them to a journey they have never taken before, to mark the first time in history when a murder suspect is to claim possession by evil spirits as defense.
9. Candyman (2021)
After several delays due to the pandemic, Universal Pictures Candyman‘s release has now moved to 2021. Based on the short story The Forbidden by Clive Barker, the film is a ‘spiritual sequel’ to the 1992 film of the same name and the fourth in the Candyman franchise. It is a supernatural film about a Chicago neighborhood where a visual artist named Anthony McCoy and his girlfriend move in, to spur a rather ghastly turn of events.
10. The Trial of Chicago 7 (October 16, 2020 – Netflix)
Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, this upcoming American crime drama has been an object of contestation for release recently. Paramount Pictures is officially set to give the film a limited release on September 25, with a wider release on October 16. According to reports, Netflix is trying to obtain the global rights to the film. The story of the film is symbolic, specifically with respect to the current global Black Lives Matter protests. The film shows how peaceful protesters were met with violence from the police.
11. Wonder Woman 1984 (December 25, 2020)
This sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman and the ninth installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), is set to release in the United States by Warner Bros. Pictures in RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, IMAX, and IMAX 3D. Set in the Cold War, the film is about Diana Prince, who comes in conflict with two of her dangerous enemies Maxwell Lord and Barbara Minerva (A.K.A. Cheetah). After several postponements, the film is now set to release December 25, 2020. Director Patty Jenkins has been in the news recently. She spoke about how she has ‘hit the pause button’ on the sequel to this film, as she wanted to fully incorporate the effects of the pandemic into her narrative.
12. Without Remorse (February 26, 2021)
This action thriller film directed by Stefano Sollima is based on the 1993 novel Without Remorse by Tom Clancy. Originally set to be released on September 18, the film was moved to October 2 due to the pandemic. It’s now further pushed to February 26, 2021. The film revolves around John Clark, a US Navy Seal who treads the path of vengeance to solve his wife’s murder mystery.
13. Death on the Nile (October 9, 2020)
Based on Agatha Christie’s popular novel and directed by Kenneth Branagh, this film is a follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express and stars Branagh as Hercule Poirot. The film is the third adaptation of the same story by Christie. It follows a world-renowned detective by the name of Poirot, as he gets involved in a love triangle gone atrociously bad while on a vacation in Egypt. The film was earlier scheduled to open in December 2019, but in order to avoid clash with Star Wars: Episode 9, it was pushed to October 9, 2020. Death on the Nile also features Indian actor Ali Fazal.
14. Halloween Kills (October 15, 2021)
Halloween Kills is an American slasher flick and and the twelfth installment in the Halloween franchise. The film is set to release in the United States on October 15, 2021. This David Gordon Green film will be a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1979 horror film, revising all of the past sequels for the better.
15. The French Dispatch (2021)
This comedy-drama film written and directed by Wes Anderson focuses on the French foreign bureau of a fictional Kansas newspaper, a world created by Anderson, Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness, and Jason Schwartzman, an ensemble cast consisting of Anderson’s frequent collaborators. The film was earlier slated for a Cannes premiere in May 2020 and a wider release in late July. Owing to festival cancellations due to the pandemic, the release was later moved to October 16. The release has now been moved to 2021.
16. Black Widow (May 7, 2021)
Intended to be the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Black Widow is an upcoming American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character. It was scheduled to release in the US in May this year as the first film in Phase Four of the MCU. Later, the release was moved to November 2020. The film is now further delayed to May 7, 2021 release. The film follows the events of Captain America Civil War (2016), and the protagonist Natasha Romanoff who must confront a conspiracy with ties to her past.
17. No Time to Die (April 2, 2021)
As per the official twitter announcement, the release date for the film had been earlier pre-scheduled to November 20 instead of November 25 in the US. The date has now been pushed to April next year. The forthcoming British spy film is also the 25th instalment in the James Bond film series.
18. Dune (October 1, 2021)
This film is first part of the two-part feature adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel by the same name. The story is about the son of a noble family assigned with the duty to protect a vital element in the galaxy. After being rescheduled by Warner Bros in August 2019, the film’s release has now again been pushed to October 1, 2021.
19. West Side Story (2021)
Directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, the film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical by the same name which is based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In the U.S., the film is set to hit the theatres December 18.
Rife with uncertainties, several noteworthy projects are either oscillating between discussions over concrete release dates or shifting to the OTT. In the pandemic we’re living through, both the distributors and the audiences are uncertain of theaters opening up. As the erratic possibilities surrounding release dates get confusing, all we can do as film-lovers is wait and hope to experience these movies on the big screen.
By Sanghmitra Jethwani