By Vishel Vivek and Lisa Richwine
AT&T Inc’s Warner Bros said it is delaying the release of “Dune” and “The Batman” movies, another setback for the entertainment industry hit by COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and social distancing measures that have closed theaters worldwide.
The movie industry received a jolt on Monday when Cineworld, the world’s second-biggest cinema chain, said it would close its UK and U.S. movie theaters, blaming the reluctance of studios to go ahead with major releases for the decision.
But AMC Entertainment, the world’s No.1 chain, said on Tuesday that most of its theaters in the United States and Europe would remain open.
Movie studios have delayed releasing tentpole projects even after restrictions were eased, as people remain wary of stepping into cinema halls and many theaters still remain closed.
“Dune”, a sci-fi movie directed by Canadian director Dennis Villeneuve, is now scheduled to open in October 2021, instead of December. The release of “The Batman”, starring Robert Pattinson, has been moved to the spring of 2022 from October next year.
Earlier, the filming of “The Batman” was also shut down for two weeks after a member of the production – widely reported to be Pattinson – tested positive for the new coronavirus. Filming resumed in Britain last month and Warner Bros never confirmed or denied reports about Pattinson’s diagnosis.
“Dune” has gained a lot of traction for its cast that includes 24-year-old Timothee Chalamet, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the 2017 film “Call Me by Your Name.”
Warner Bros’ “Tenet”, directed by Christopher Nolan, did get a theatrical release but after multiple delays, while “Wonder Woman 1984” has been pushed back.
The release of the new James Bond movie “No Time to Die” from MGM and Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures has also been delayed until April 2021.