Still from "Raya and the Last Dragon".
The checkout calendar shifts again. On the final day, more than a dozen Hollywood titles were removed from the list due to the Covid pandemic and postponed later in the year or through 2022.
Cinema owners hoping to get a bunch of new blockbuster features by March in December are watching Sony, Disney, and MGM move major films.
On Thursday, the latest James Bond flick, MGM's "No Time to Die," was postponed from April to October, Sony's "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" was postponed to November, and Sony's "Morbius" and "Uncharted" were postponed to 2022 later in the year half a dozen films, including "The King & # 39; s Man", or removed them entirely from the calendar.
The few films that remain in February and March are tied to streaming releases. AT & T / Warner Bros. & # 39; "Tom and Jerry" hits HBO Max and in theaters on February 26th. Disney's "Raya and the Last Dragon" will debut in theaters and on Disney + on March 5 for $ 30 and AT&T / Warner Bros. & # 39; "Godzilla v. Kong" will be released on March 26th on HBO Max and in theaters.
Lions Gate's "Chaos Walking" is the only major film release with no daily and date streaming schedule.
"[Warner Bros.] has made the right move all along," said Jeff Bock, senior analyst for Exhibitor Relations. "You may not have cleared it through the right channels and disheveled some feathers, but make no mistake. WB is the only studio other than Disney that is empowering itself and the theaters in a safe and secure way at the same time."
The United States records at least 187,500 new Covid-19 cases and at least 3,050 virus-related deaths every day, based on a seven-day average calculated by CNBC using data from Johns Hopkins University.
While President Joe Biden has promised to speed up vaccinations across the country, only around 17.5 million doses have been given so far.
Studios fear the continued rise in coronavirus cases will keep moviegoers away from cinemas, even as new titles play on big screens. Many of these films have large production budgets and rely on heavy ticket sales to break even.
However, studios with streaming services have a safety net, Bock said. For Warner Bros., dual publishing in theaters and on HBO Max allows it to boost subscriber signups and make money from ticket sales.
It is unclear how successful this strategy was, as Wonder Woman 1984 is the only Warner Bros. movie to date to be released this way. AT&T is slated to release quarterly results next week, so analysts are likely to get a better feel for how the movie has done for the company then.
Disney's release of "Raya and the Last Dragon" is also a premiere. The company previously released "Mulan" on Disney + for a $ 30 premium, but did not release it in theaters at the same time. Disney has yet to comment on how "Mulan" performed for the company.
"It's going to be tough sledding for the theater," said Bock. "[You] have to rely on indie distributors until at least May."
Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of Universal Studios and CNBC. Universal releases "No Time To Die" internationally, while MGM does the domestic release.