If you ignore everything that was going on with the President of the United States, it was a relatively quiet weekend, particularly the world of film and television production, as things seem to be back on track in many regions.
Probably the biggest news on Friday was more on the theatrical and distribution side as MGM Studios decided to delay No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond movie and the final one with Daniel Craig, to April 2, 2021. That is almost a year after its initial planned release this past April, despite the movie being one of the first movies to delay its release due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan was then to open the movie in mid-November right before Thanksgiving, which has been the regular slot for Bond movies for many of the most recent installments.
As with everything else this year, there was a domino effect where delaying what would have been one of the prime Thanksgiving movie releases meant that Cineworld Group, the company behind one of the biggest movie theater chains in the UK and owner of the Regal Cinemas chain decided to suspend all of its own services both in the UK and the U.S.
In a statement released Monday — after rumors all weekend that it was happening — the company said:
“In response to an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape and sustained key market closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cineworld confirms that it will be temporarily suspending operations at all of its 536 Regal theatres in the U.S. and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theaters in the U.K. from Thursday, 8 October 2020.”
If you’re wondering why and how the problems with movie distribution might affect you, the crew, I can only imagine that most creative and craft people would want to see their work on the biggest screen for the widest audience, and right now, theatrical just isn’t happening. Whether it’s the lack of product as movies keep being delayed, or general nerves about sitting in an enclosed space with strangers, the increase in COVID cases in places like the UK, or the abundance of stuff to be watched at home, people just aren’t going to the movies right now.
John Fithian, head of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), went so far as to blame New York Governor Andrew Cuomo‘s reticence to open movie theaters in the state on the studio’s decision to delay No Time to Die, which led to Cineworld’s decision, and it’s being reported that movie theater stocks once again plummeted on Monday morning from all the bad news.
Christopher Nolan‘s Tenet has been a good example of the failing box office. Although it’s been the #1 movie for five weeks since opening in the United States over Labor Day weekend, it has only grossed $45.1 million during that time. Under normal circumstances i.e. no pandemic, it might have made that amount its opening weekend. It was #1 again this weekend with just $2.7 million, while a rerelease of Disney’s Hocus Pocus took second place with $1.9 million in 2,570 American theaters. New genre films, Possessor, Save Yourselves! and The Call, failed to make much of a mark playing in a few hundred theaters across the country.
Tenet had the highest per-theater average with less than $1,000 per theater, just in case you’re wondering why Regal Cinemas might shut down its 536 U.S. theaters, even though COVID cases are going down in so many areas of the country.
We do have some production news today, and unfortunately, it isn’t of the good kind, as filmmaker Joe Carnahan had to temporarily shut down production on his new action flick, CopShop, after three of the crew tested positive for COVID. The movie had just begun shooting in Georgia, starring Gerard Butler and frequent Carnahan collaborator, Frank Grillo.
Producer Warren Gotz gave Deadline the following statement:
“We learned this morning that three crew members have tested positive for COVID-19. We immediately paused production proactively. The safety of our cast and crew is our greatest priority. We are contact tracing everyone in the production at this time. Those who tested positive were isolated from the vast majority of our crew, including our actors and director. An extensive set of protocols were implemented for this production from the beginning and we remain dedicated to ensuring they are followed. If test results are negative, we will resume production according to our established safety guidelines.”
Deadline also ran a feature interview with Graham Stuart, Executive Producer of the popular British talk show, The Graham Norton Show, about how they were able to return to the studio, as is happening with many late night talk shows that film in New York. Some of the changes being made in order to resume production from the studio including the “usual audience of 640 will be radically slimmed down to 100. Strict safety protocols are in place, including social distancing and groups attending in family bubbles. The show will have a ‘blended’ mix of guests, as Norton knits together stars in the studio with others dialing in from overseas.” Although this story posted on Friday, it may have been written in weeks prior and with new shutdowns and lockdowns in the U.K., things may already be changing back to a virtual production.
We started today’s wrap-up column by mentioning the President, so we might as well end with something more fun about the current Presidential race. Jim Carrey appeared on Saturday Night Live on Saturday to debut his Joe Biden impression in a panel poking fun at the first Presidential debate between Biden and the incumbent Donald Trump, once again played by Alec Baldwin. You can watch that full cold open below: