As the coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S. at reduced but still concerning levels, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) pushed back the release dates of a laundry list of upcoming movies today, according to reports by USA Today and others. While the media titan is pushing back most releases by a few weeks, in two prominent cases -- the superhero film Black Widow and the Steven Spielberg flick West Side Story -- the movies are being delayed by six months and a year, respectively.
Black Widow, in which actress Scarlett Johansson plays a super-powered spy, assassin, and martial artist, was originally slated to start showing at cinemas on Nov. 6. However, the date for the superhero blockbuster's advent has been shunted to May 7, 2021. Disney is moving the Agatha Christie murder mystery film Death on the Nile, directed by Kenneth Branagh, about two months forward on the calendar, from Oct. 23 to Dec. 18, Variety reports.
The biggest change involves the scheduling of Spielberg's musical drama and adaptation of the eponymous 1957 Broadway musical West Side Story. Disney intends to migrate its release date from Dec. 18 this year to Dec. 10, 2021.
The current cinema environment appears poor for profitable movie releases. In spite of theaters reopening with reduced capacity, extra sanitation protocols, and improved ventilation to reduce COVID-19 hazards, Americans are showing only lackluster interest for in-theater viewing. Cinema company AMC Entertainment Holdings found this out recently, with weak ticket revenue accruing to major releases that generated much better profits overseas.
Disney's share value ended the day's trading down slightly more than 3% at market close.