Disney on Friday pushed the release of Marvel Studios “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” for the second time from Nov 5, 2021 to March 25, 2022.
Additionally, “Thor: Love and Thunder” moves up a week from Feb 18, 2022 to Feb 11. Scarlett Johansson’s Marvel movie “Black Widow,” previously dated for May 1, now moves to the November 6 slot previously held by the Angelina Jolie-led “The Eternals.” That sets up a big shift in upcoming MCU titles, with “The Eternals” moving to Feb. 12, 2021, and “Shang-Chi” to May 7, 2021. “Black Panther 2” remains on the schedule for May 6, 2022 and “Captain Marvel 2” is now set for July 8, 2022.
The “Doctor Strange” sequel is tentatively scheduled to go into production in May. Details of the film are still under wraps, but during the Marvel presentation at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige said the “Doctor Strange” sequel will be “the first scary MCU film.” But, Feige joked “It’s gonna be PG-13 and you’re going to like it!” Up and coming screenwriter Jade Bartlett wrote the latest draft of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” for Marvel Studios. “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi is returning to the superhero genre and is set to direct.
Other Hollywood studios have been making similar, sweeping changes to their tentpole release strategies as the film industry adjusts to the indefinite closure of movie theaters worldwide to prevent the spread of coronavirus. As the virus spread across the globe, major films set for release in April and May were pulled left and right, including “F9,” and “No Time to Die.” Once the wave of theater lockdowns hit the U.S., June blockbusters like “Wonder Woman 1984” soon followed.
Even if a doomsday scenario for movie theaters is avoided and they are able to reopen by July, the studio’s plan to move their biggest films of the year from the summer shows how studios may be hesitant to get right back to sending big-budget blockbusters into theaters.
Not only will studios want to have an assurance that they will be able to hold a full marketing campaign, but some analysts and executives told TheWrap that there is the possibility that moviegoers may be reluctant to immediately return to public gatherings unless it is clear that the virus is no longer a threat to public health.