Movies – The 12 Biggest Movies Already Delayed To 2022
The Batman, Morbius, and more of the biggest movies from 2021 (or even 2020) that have already been delayed to next year.
Pop quiz: What do Paramount’s Rumble, Sony’s Escape Room 2 and Sony’s Morbius have in common? The answer is that all three films were initially intended to open theatrically in 2020 but have now been scheduled to open in early the first two months of 2022. As the pandemic continues and Hollywood merely hopes that vaccination efforts will precede fast enough to salvage something resembling a summer movie season, all eyes are on the biggies slated for May 2021, namely Walt Disney’s Black Widow, Lionsgate’s Spiral and Universal’s F9, all of which were supposed to open last May. Meanwhile, there are nearly a dozen upcoming features that were supposed to open in 2020 or 2021 which have already been delayed until 2022.
This doesn’t deal with in-development projects (like James Mangold’s Indiana Jones 5, announced in early 2016 for a summer 2019 release) or long-gestating films like Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg’s Uncharted. Sony moved the video game flick from December 18, 2020 to March 5 2021 (after Ruben Fleischer took over for Travis Knight) and now to February 11, 2022. Ditto The Flash (November 4, 2022), Into the Spider-Verse 2 (October 7, 2022) and Mission: Impossible 8 (November 4, 2022) which moved from earlier 2022 to later 2022. We’ve been getting new Avatar 2 release dates since October 27, 2010 back when it was supposed to open in late 2014 (against The Last Jedi in 2017, December 18, 2020, etc.), but here’s hoping December 16, 2022 is it.
And without further ado…
Escape Room 2 (Sony)
Original date: April 17, 2020
Current date: January 7, 2022
Adam Robitel’s PG-13 “Saw for Kids” picture, about six strangers (including Taylor Russell) forced to work together to navigate a fatally-rigged escape room, was not only a very good movie, especially for a January grindhouse horror flick, it earned $155 million on an $18 million budget. That’s more than any actual Saw movie (sans inflation) save for Saw III ($164 million in 2006). We have little idea what to expect with the follow-up, which adds Isabelle Fuhrman, but it’s the best kind of sequel. It came about not due to preordained franchise hopes but because the first film was surprisingly good and surprisingly successful.
Original date: July 31, 2020
Current date: January 21, 2022
Sony’s Jared Leto-starring entry in the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters (that just rolls off the tongue), was the first of the early 2021 releases to move into the future. October 8, 2021 made sense, until MGM moved No Time to Die from April 2, 2020 to October 8, 2020. The good news is that it’ll get IMAX screens for the hardship. The bad news is that any momentum gained from Venom, Into the Spider-Verse and Spider-Man: Far from Home will be long gone.
The 355 (Universal)
Original date: January 15, 2021
Current date: January 14, 2022
Initially pitched as a handful of Universal/Focus Features theatrical releases that would both help keep theaters afloat and test out their “theaters to PVOD” plan in early 2021, the choice was made to push Simon Kinberg’s all-star actioner a full year, while Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson’s rom-com Marry Me fled from February 12 to May 14 of this year. Jessica Chastain pitched the idea of a female-led ensemble spy flick while on the set of Kinberg’s Dark Phoenix, and the final cast includes Diane Kruger, Penélope Cruz, Fan Bingbing and Lupita Nyong’o. Universal won domestic theatrical distribution for $20 million.
Original date: July 31, 2020
Current date: February 18, 2022
Produced by WWE and Paramount, this original animated feature about monster wrestling and the couches/trainers who champion them, is another shot at Paramount trying to make a name for itself in the realm of animated features nearly a decade after DreamWorks Animation went to Fox (before being bought outright by Comcast). Wonder Park certainly didn’t do the job, and any original animation faces an uphill battle. This isn’t 2016, where the likes of Zootopia, Secret Life of Pets, Moana and Sing soared to theatrical box office glory. The only original animated mega-hit since has been Pixar’s Coco, although we’ll never know how Onward, Soul, Raya and the Last Dragon or The Mitchells Vs. the Machines might have fared in a non-Covid timeline.
The Batman (Warner Bros.)
Original date: June 25, 2021
Current date: March 4, 2022
Matt Reeves’ much-anticipated Dark Knight flick is positioning itself as an anti-blockbuster, a grim, grounded, real-world serial killer thriller sans even Chris Nolan’s flights of fancy and Zack Snyder’s apocalyptic visuals. Conventional wisdom suggests that this is a surefire mega-hit, but we should remember that Nolan’s acclaimed Batman Begins, which featured esteemed actors as real-world villains (Liam Neeson as Ra’s Al Ghul and Cillian Murphy as the Scarecrow) earned “just” $205 million domestic and $371 million in 2005. That suggests a possible ceiling for big-scale Batman movies that lack marquee villains (that look like their comic book counterparts), especially for audiences that have plenty of Batman media to choose from. If the movie works, then “pretty damn good” should be, commercially speaking, good enough.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Walt Disney)
Original date: May 7, 2021
Current date: March 25, 2022
Not only was this MCU sequel supposed to kick off this summer’s movie season, the Sam Raimi-directed sequel was supposed to set the tables for whatever was coming next in Marvel’s post-Endgame future. It’s no secret that Disney+’s WandaVision will lead into this film, with Elizabeth Olsen co-starring with Benedict Cumberbatch in this “mythology episode” sequel to Scott Dickerson’s stand-alone franchise-starter. In normal circumstances, I’d be concerned about a sequel to a liked-but-not-beloved predecessor opening five years after the first one, but the pandemic, and frankly Marvel’s skill at keeping folks engaged, means this probably won’t be another Godzilla: King of the Monsters or The LEGO Movie 2. I guess at worst it “only” equals Doctor Strange’s $677 million global gross.
Thor: Love and Thunder (Walt Disney)
Original date: November 5, 2021
Current date: May 6, 2022
Comparatively speaking, a delay of just six months isn’t that huge of a change for Taika Waititi’s sequel to Thor: Ragnarok. Again, under normal circumstances I’d be concerned about a 4.5-year gap since the last Thor movie, but Chris Hemsworth’s Asgardian god had prominent roles in Avengers: Infinity War in 2018 and Avengers: Endgame in 2019. Besides, this one has oodles of “added value,” included a marquee director coming of a beloved predecessor, Natalie Portman returning this time as “the Mighty Thor,” and at least some of the Guardians of the Galaxy showing up to play. Of all the upcoming MCU movies, this may be the biggest potential breakout, especially if theaters are healthier in May of 2022 then for Spider-Man 3 in December of 2021.
John Wick: Chapter 4 (Lionsgate)
Original date: May 21, 2021
Current date: May 27, 2022
For one glorious and implausible moment, Keanu Reeves’ The Matrix 4 was slated to open on the same day as Keanu Reeves’ John Wick: Chapter 4. Alas, common sense (and the pandemic) led to a divergent destiny, with Matrix 4 set for December 22, 2021 and John Wick: Chapter 4 now set for May 27, 2022. Can the fourth film continue that unprecedented franchise growth ($43 million domestic/$88 million worldwide in 2014, $92 million/$172 million in 2017 and $172 million/$322 million in 2019)? Maybe, but the hope is that the fourth installment will do what Mission: Impossible and Fast & Furious did on the fourth go-around, namely going sky-high overseas to put it alongside the biggest of big “real world” action franchises.
Untitled Elvis Film (Warner Bros.)
Original date: November 5, 2021
Current date: June 3, 2022
Written by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pierce and directed by Luhrmann, this flick stars Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker, who was Elvis Presley’s manager for over 20 years. That it’s moving out of a seemingly awards-friendly date is… curious, but Paramount and WB have turned would-be awards season biggies like Shutter Island and The Great Gatsby into mainstream commercial smash hits, so this isn’t automatically a question of quality. Truth be told, every WB movie that moves out of 2021 is a signal that the HBO Max release gimmick really will be an “only in 2021” strategy. At the very least, it gives Warner Bros. more than just a few DC Films flick and Fantastic Beasts 3 to look forward to in 2022.
Jurassic World: Dominion (Universal)
Original date: June 10, 2021
Current date: June 11, 2022
Universal made headlines by spending around $10 million to get this film done via strict Covid-specific protocols during the pandemic only to delay it to next summer anyway. Considering how successful this Jurassic franchise has been (an average of $1 billion worldwide for the first five installments), $10 million is a bargain to safely finish this follow up to Jurassic World ($1.651 billion) and Fallen Kingdom ($1.308 billion). Yes, there will probably be more Jurassic flicks, even as this trilogy topper is being sold as the culmination of all things Jurassic. No matter, Dominion (which teams Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard with Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum) is the safe bet to be next year’s second-biggest grosser behind only Avatar 2.
Fantastic Beasts 3 (Warner Bros.)
Original date: November 12, 2021
Current date: July 15, 2022
This third chapter in David Yates and J.K. Rowling’s prequel franchise has to win back at least some of the fans lost after the shockingly bad Crimes of Grindelwald (hence the initial delay from 2020 to 2021) and justify a five-film saga as everyone waits for Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint to be old enough to play their characters in a theoretical film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Swapping out Johnny Depp for Mads Mikkelsen won’t matter commercially, but it will clamp down on at least one PR headache. While all signs point to doom on the third go-around (see Allegiant, Dark Phoenix and Dark Fate), Fantastic Beasts did earn $655 million worldwide, just 19% below Fantastic Beasts’ $813 million.
Halloween Ends (Universal)
Original date: October 15, 2021
Current date: October 14, 2022
Halloween Kills was supposed to open this past October but got pushed to this October, complete with the IMAX Experience, while the threequel will launch a year later. I had/have misgivings about Blumhouse’s previous Halloween flick, but chatter about the follow-up had me hoping that the sequel would give me what I wanted the first time out (more of a “What if this happened in 2018” scale). The good news is that, even if Halloween Kills entertains those wanting something different while angering some of the purist fans, well, we’re dealing with $10-$20 million slasher movies so I’m guessing Blumhouse isn’t going to force David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and friends to turn Halloween Ends into the Rise of Skywalker of Halloween flicks.