Universal has pushed the release date of Illumination Entertainment’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” which was originally meant to open on July 3.
It’s the latest date yet on the upcoming release calendar to get pushed because of the coronavirus, and the film is currently unset. In a statement, Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri said the delay was due to the French studio closing because of the coronavirus, which made them unable to finish the film in time for the release.
“In response to the severity of the situation in France, we are temporarily closing our Illumination Mac Guff studio in Paris. With this decision we are abiding by the French Government’s guidelines and doing everything possible to slow the spread of the virus as we care for our artists and their families. This means we will be unable to finish ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ in time for our planned global releases in late June and early July. While we all grapple with the enormity of this crisis, we must put the safety and protection of our employees above all. We look forward to finding a new release date for the return of Gru and the Minions,” Meledandri said.
Universal has already kicked “F9,” the latest “Fast & Furious” sequel, to Memorial Day weekend 2021, and the animated “Trolls World Tour” is now opening day-and-date for VOD rental on April 10.
“Minions: The Rise of Gru” is the latest shift to suggest that movie studios are bracing for the possibility of a summer movie season without movies. Already tentpole films like “Black Widow” have been shifted off the release calendar to unannounced dates, and it’s possible more postponements for June titles like “Wonder Woman 1984” could come next.
Studios are preparing multiple options for how they will start distributing films depending on exactly when theaters reopen, several insiders said. The plans will change depending on each studio’s slate, but in general, studios will want to make sure they have at least two or three weeks of lead time after theaters reopen before releasing any big-budget tentpoles like “Mulan” or “Wonder Woman.”
Mid-budget or microbudget films that were postponed will likely be the first booked into newly opened theaters, both because of the more modest marketing requirements and the desire to test the waters for Americans’ willingness to go back to the movie theater after a pandemic spread by social contact.
Another effect of the coronavirus pandemic may make studios’ rescheduling decisions more clear-cut: production shutdowns. The longer that pandemic-related production hiatuses drag on, the less likely it will be that films currently scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2020 will be ready for those dates. Among the films set for Q4 release are Marvel Studios’ “Eternals,” Universal’s “Halloween Kills,” Sony’s “Venom 2,” Warner Bros.’ “Dune” and Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story” for 20th Century Studios.
The third “Despicable Me” movie made over $1 billion worldwide for Universal, including nearly three-quarters of that total internationally. The latest film is billed as a “Minions” movie but follows the origin story of Gru (Steve Carell) as a child with ambitions to become the world’s greatest supervillain. The movie debuted a trailer during the Super Bowl.