Why Studios Are Sticking to Winter Theatrical Releases Despite Omicron Surge, Sony’s ‘Morbius’ Delay

Paramount and Disney say they are keeping their early-year release dates

Earlier this week, Sony moved its Jared Leto-led “Spider-Man” spinoff “Morbius” back from late January to April 1 in the face of the Omicron variant surge — but unlike in the past, that move hasn’t signaled a domino-effect of postponements from other studios.

Reps for Paramount and Disney tell TheWrap that their own early-year theatrical releases are staying put, including Paramount’s “Scream” reboot (January 14) and “Jackass Forever” (February 4) as well as Disney 20th Century’s “Death on the Nile” (February 11).

Last summer, the rise of the Delta variant triggered several shifts in the release calendar, including a pushback of Sony’s “Venom: There Will Be Carnage” from September to October and Paramount’s big move of “Top Gun: Maverick” from November 2021 to Memorial Day weekend 2022. So what’s different this time?

For Sony, there’s a much greater investment in “Morbius” than other January and February films. Not only does the film have a much higher production and marketing budget, but the studio hopes to grow “Morbius” and Leto’s vampire antihero into the next “Venom” as it develops films based on the “Spider-Man” villains to which it holds the rights. Another spinoff film based on Kraven the Hunter is also in the works.

Interestingly, though, the Culver City-based studio is — for the moment — sticking with a February 18 release for “Uncharted,” a pricey action film based on the hit video game that’s seen as a potential new franchise for “Spider-Man” star Tom Holland.

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • jeremy.fuster@thewrap.com • Twitter: @jeremyfuster