Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 7

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 7 of the Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

As much as I want to continue to create informative content, I’m getting to the point where this series has become an annoyance. But I continue to do it anyway because historians can look back on this and remember it as a dire time for the film industry, which it really is. And those reviews I’ve been saving for months cannot go to waste. So Scene Before is STILL your place for the apocalypse! But who knows how much longer this will last? If I have to do more than twelve or thirteen, I might shove an aluminum soda can down my throat. In other news, I still know how to put on pants, I have not been going outside, and if I’m not back in the cinema by the end of July, I am going to throw all my DVDs and Blu-rays out the window like I’m a stubborn child!

And since we are still on a downward spiral, let’s get to the news of the world!

Starting in New York, we have news regarding what could be the United States’ most famous public transportation system, the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority). Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York state, made a major change to the system. The MTA is known for having a 24/7 schedule, so they never stop running. However, under Cuomo’s order, the system will be shutting down from 1 AM to 5 AM. This is likely a financially responsible decision, as nightlife in New York is nonexistent at this point. Plus, ridership is down 90% as far as the system goes. With less money, there’s more of a willingness to engage in the system’s preservation. This is also part of an effort to properly disinfect MTA property and machines, making a safer and cleaner ride for customers.

While some states are going to have to wait a bit longer to reopen, some like Georgia and Texas have begun easing on restrictions. Another state that has announced some easing on restrictions is the New England state of New Hampshire. The state plans to partially reopen starting May 11th. Certain pieces of economic industry including golf courses, campgrounds, and hair salons are permitted to reopen. Outdoor dining is also permitted to take place. Strict guidelines are still in place however as there is still a tendency to keep people 6 feet apart. New Hampshire currently has over twenty-five hundred confirmed COVID-19 cases so far. That is more than neighboring states Maine and Vermont, but is significantly less than its other neighboring state, Massachusetts, which has over seventy thousand cases.

Let’s go over to the United Kingdom and talk about Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Previously diagnosed with COVID-19, Johnson spent time in intensive care and was monitored health-wise. As he gets back into his routine, he stated that doctors were ready to announce his death in an event that he refers to as a “death of Stalin’-type scenario.” Johnson told UK newspaper The Sun that he required “liters and liters of oxygen.” During hospitalization, the Prime Minister kept asking himself: “How am I going to get out of this?” In other news, Johnson and his wife recently named their newborn son Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson. The “Nicholas” in this full name is chosen in honor of a doctor who helped aid Johnson.

Before we dive into our main topics, here’s a conglomerate of news that I ought to share because it can be packaged into a little box. While most theaters in the United States seem to have a plan on opening back up in the summer, because nothing’s out until then, some theaters are already opening their doors. For example, in Rhode Island, the Rustic Tri-View Drive-In, located in North Smithfield, is now part of the state’s reopen plan according to Governor Gina Raimondo. As for non-drive ins, Texas has three Santikos theaters reopening with a $5 ticket deal. For the record, this is a third of the company’s locations. Honestly, while it is good news for business that these theaters are reopening, I think it is also good news for health that they are taking it slow. The major chains like AMC and Cinemark still plan on a July reopening, which I think is fine, because it builds up anticipation and there’s nothing really new playing until then. Outside the U.S., Norway is reopening its theaters starting May 7th, capping the limit at 50 people per screening. The movie theater to me is a place beyond the imagination. It’s also a place where I occasionally get to see masterpieces. These masterpieces often get awards, such as Oscars. Speaking of the Oscars, let’s talk about them!

THE ACADEMY CHANGES RULES FOR THE 93RD ANNUAL OSCARS

One of my favorite days of the year is Oscar Sunday. When this crisis first started, I was a little worried that would not even be able to see an Academy Awards show next year, much less get more movies that could potentially be nominated. After all, when you are a studio or crew and cannot come out with your movie, it’s kind of a struggle. However, The Academy may have something planned next year. One indicator of this is them announcing changes to their rules and layout. Most notably, the Academy is putting its traditional rule of its nominees needing to have a theatrical release on hold. Specifically, the rule that a movie must play in Los Angeles county cinemas for at least a week with daily screenings taking place at least thrice. So if you play your movie in cities such as Los Angeles, Burbank, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Glendale, Pasadena, Culver City, or anywhere else in Los Angeles county that may have a movie theater under certain requirements, it could potentially be nominated for an Academy Award. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Academy is making an exception for this year. The following quote is taken from The Academy’s website, oscars.org.

“Until further notice, and for the 93rd Awards year only, films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming or VOD service may qualify in the Best Picture, general entry and specialty categories for the 93rd Academy Awards under these provisions:

  1. The film must be made available on the secure Academy Screening Room member-only streaming site within 60 days of the film’s streaming or VOD release;
  2. The film must meet all other eligibility requirements.”

So this means that films like “Trolls: World Tour,” “Scoob!,” and “The King of Staten Island,” which are either already On Demand or will be dropping towards On Demand soon, are considered eligible for the Academy Awards. Films that barely even got a theatrical release like “Bloodshot” or “The Hunt” also qualify. I’m willing to imagine to some extent that this *may* count a film such as “The Lovebirds,” which was going to theatrically release this year and make a debut at South by Southwest. Although the festival was canceled and Paramount is no longer putting the film out in cinemas. But unlike films such as “Trolls: World Tour,” which is available on platforms including Prime Video, Google Play, Vudu, FandangoNOW, AMC Theatres On-Demand, iTunes, and cable outlets such as Xfinity and Fios, “The Lovebirds” is going straight to Netflix. Given how Netflix has made a major presence at the Academy Awards in past years, films like “The Lovebirds” could be considered eligible, but is the Academy only considering certain platforms? Are exclusive platform deals going to tie in somehow? What about “Artemis Fowl” on Disney+? That movie was supposed to come out this month, but unfortunately that’s not happening.

Also keeping fine print in mind, these rules pertain to films that were once planning on theatrically releasing. So films like Netflix’s “Extraction,” which was intended for a streaming platform, or HBO’s “Bad Education,” which went straight to television, will not qualify. This policy is also not permanent, as the Academy intends to make this only apply for this year’s ceremony, and anticipates an end date in the future when there is a sense of normalcy, not to mention when theaters re-open. However, the Academy is also planning on expanding qualifying theaters to U.S. areas including New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami. As one who lives fairly close to Boston, I am disappointed, but we can’t have everything, even if sports prove otherwise. By the way, I hate football. I said it.

PHYSICAL MEDIA (and other electronic) SALES GO UP

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Now I imagine some people will flat out not care about this, but to me, physical media is the best way to watch a movie at home. Because when you buy a movie on Prime Video for example, you don’t own it. Yes, you possess the film digitally, but if the service goes down, crashes, or the company behind it closes its doors forever, you’ll probably never be able to watch it again. With physical media, it is all up to you. Now it is not a surprise that we have had more time on our hands to go on Netflix and watch “Extraction,” to flock over to Disney+ and watch “Star Wars,” to jump on over to FandangoNOW and give “Trolls: World Tour” a rent. But what KIND OF surprises me, and I say kind of, is how much of a presence physical media has in this pandemic. According to recent statistics, DVD and Blu-ray players went up 27% during the pandemic. Keep in mind, this is a market that Samsung recently abandoned.

Another thing to keep in mind is that DVD and Blu-ray players, which went up by 27% is not the only winner here, in fact, the increase is not as big as other categories such as TV mounts (41%), printers (61%), and streaming players (67%). So rather than just being a great boost for physical media, it is also a great boost for tech. TVs have been doing well, and so have computers. As for where the actual total of sales for DVD and Blu-ray DISCS stand, that’s another question. Although, based on this quote from NPD’s Tom Baker, that type of electronic may be doing just fine.

“Sales are up as consumers stay at home and look for multiple forms of entertainment. These include DVDs and Blu-ray discs to entertain children while their parents are working, backup access devices if Internet access is challenged by streaming, or simply the consumers’ realization that they may need a physical disc player as an alternative to streaming and either they didn’t already have one or the one they do have needs an upgrade.”

Honestly, in a time like this, I think some people are going to want physical media. Sure, it involves getting up and putting in a disc, but one of the reasons why I am such an advocate for it is the technical side of it. Outlets like YouTube and Netflix have lowered the default quality of content to standard definition. With Blu-ray, the default quality is 1080p, or if you have a smaller setup, it’ll work in 720p. Yes, standard definition is the quality of DVD, which is 480p, but again, I’ll bring up the fact that you have control over your content. Netflix, or more specifically, Warnermedia, is not going to snatch “Friends” away whenever the year ends like they did months ago. If you don’t want it, just sell it and get some money back! Plus, you get all the bonus features which can help you pass the time. I just got the “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” 4K Blu-ray last month, I still need to watch the bonus content! So I still have something to do! Also, what if the Internet goes down? You don’t need any Internet to watch a DVD! If I had to come up with any downsides, maybe it involves a little more activity, but since we refuse to go outside, it could be worth taking a couple steps to the collection and popping a disc in. Or, since places like Walmart sells them, there’s always a chance, given how grocery stores are becoming petri dishes right now, that other people touched the DVDs or Blu-rays and spread their germs, which may not be the most pleasant happening for a time like this. But of course, worst case scenario, you can always order these things online. Although I can also imagine that some people are buying these devices because they have smart capabilities as well, allowing them to contain apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Prime Video.

NO MORE KEANU DAY, BUT HERE’S MORE DELAYS!

One of the actors who arguably was the “winner” of 2019 is Keanu Reeves. His year in acting brought him success through films like “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” and “Toy Story 4.” He did films like “Replicas,” which honestly sucked, but he also became a heavy hitting piece of promotion for the upcoming game “Cyberpunk 2077,” by making a surprise appearance at E3 last year. And honestly, this might have spawned my favorite slice of all the content that went viral on the Internet last year.

In fact this year, the Keanussance is likely going to continue. After all, he is making an appearance in the third “SpongeBob SquarePants” movie in a minor role. The movie by the way for those who don’t know is titled “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.” Speaking of known properties, Reeves is also going to be reuniting with Alex Winter to star in “Bill & Ted Face the Music.” Although, if you are a fan of one of Keanu Reeves’ most popular franchises, specifically “John Wick,” prepare to be disappointed. “John Wick: Chapter 4,” once scheduled to come out May 21st, 2021, will now be releasing May 27th, 2022, a full year later. Taking the spot of “John Wick” is the “Saw” reboot titled “Spiral,” which was supposed to be out May 15th of this year. Speaking of Lionsgate films, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” which is a sequel to 2017’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” will be hitting theaters August 20th, 2021, as opposed to its prior date of August 28th, 2020. An upcoming horror drama, “Antebellum,” is set to release August 21st, 2020, as opposed to its original date which has already passed, April 24th, 2020.

However, sticking with “John Wick: Chapter 4,” this delay is a particularly interesting one. Not just because it involves a meme-worthy actor and a hit action franchise, but this film was originally supposed to come out the same day as another Keanu Reeves movie. And it’s not some indie film made by a studio like A24 or Neon. It’s not, THANKFULLY, a sequel to “Replicas,” a film Reeves starred in that turned out to be one of the worst films of 2019. It’s “The Matrix 4.” Now if you asked me five years ago about the possibility of a “Matrix 4,” I’d probably toss the idea behind my head. There didn’t seem to be much place else that the story could go. But hey, everything’s getting a reboot and a remake now, so why not “The Matrix?” I honestly don’t know what to expect from it, but the fact that this is a reboot and not a remake pleases me. Nevertheless, both films prior to the delay of “John Wick: Chapter 4” were scheduled to come out May 21st, 2021. The Internet has often called this “Keanu Day.” I will say that the delay of “John Wick: Chapter 4” is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because it avoids having the crew rush on making the film, but it’s also unfortunate because as a Keanu Reeves follower, I figured it would be fun to go to the theater and do a Keanu Reeves double feature. However, if more good news needs to be said, I should also point out it’s perhaps likely that these films, which by the way, are from different companies, will be marketed to similar groups of people, and maybe both could lose their respective studios money as a result. Both films debuting on their own release dates could not only benefit Lionsgate, who is delaying “John Wick: Chapter 4,” but also Warner Bros., who is responsible for “Matrix 4.” Not everyone has the money and time to go see two seemingly similar movies. While “John Wick” fans may have to wait, this could give Lionsgate a greater chance of creating a “John Wick: Chapter 5,” because what if “John Wick: Chapter 4” doesn’t warrant a sequel after losing lots of money to “Matrix 4?” At least the studio has a “Hunger Games” prequel and “Knives Out 2” potentially coming soon so it’s not like they’ll spend years losing money from here on out.

AMC THEATRES AND REGAL ENTERTAINMENT GROUP BAN UNIVERSAL FILMS

Can I get some popcorn?! Because I’d say it’s time to enjoy the greatest battle in cinematic history, and it’s not even in a movie! Tonight’s fighters are… movie theaters and Universal Pictures! Now, “Trolls: World Tour” is a one of a kind movie, mainly because Universal decided that it should be released directly onto VOD. Universal bragged about the film’s progress so far to the point where they thought it would be a good idea to release more of their films On Demand while also putting them into theaters.

Now, I’m going to have to be very careful here, because several different outlets have reported similar sounding items that might contextualize something different.

The story here begins by bringing the mega-chain AMC Theatres into the mix. AMC Theatres saw Universal’s plan to simultaneously release movies theatrically and at home and responded by saying that they will not play any of Universal’s movies if that’s the case. While a source like The Hollywood Reporter did a story on this and cited from AMC CEO Adam Aron that the company will no longer play any of Universal’s films in its theaters worldwide, one quote from Deadline’s article suggests, also from Adam Aron, that they will not do so “on these terms.” By that, it likely means that AMC will not release Universal’s films if they just follow a simultaneous home video rollout. Keep in mind, it is traditional for films to follow a strict theatrical window. While there have been cases of films like “Black Panther” that you can still see in some theaters while it becomes available at home, tradition has suggested that a movie released for theaters must be out for about ninty days before it comes home. Universal doing a release like this not only ignores the theatrical window, but it also makes the theater potentially lose money because people could just stay home and put the movie on their TV. In fact, movie theaters were against Universal since this pandemic started. While they did manage to have a rather solid idea of making “Trolls: World Tour” a straight to On Demand movie, other studios seemingly have concretely laid out their plans and avoided giving such a last minute notice like Universal appeared to. NATO (National Association of Theater Owners) head John Fithian was against this from day one.

“Only Universal, and only on ‘Trolls,’ did one studio skip the theatrical model and go straight to the home. Universal continues to advertise to consumers that ‘Trolls’ will be released simultaneously to theaters and the home on April 10. And they are lying to consumers. Universal knows that theaters will still be closed on April 10, so unlike every other distributor who must simply delay their releases in that time period, but still understand that theatrical release is essential to their business model, Universal on ‘Trolls’ didn’t make that decision. Exhibitors will not forget this.”

Fithian also shares his thoughts on the current matter of AMC abandoning Universal films with this quote…

“Universal does not have reason to use unusual circumstances in an unprecedented environment as a springboard to bypass true theatrical releases. Theaters provide a beloved immersive, shared experience that cannot be replicated — an experience that many of the VOD viewers of this film would have participated in had the world not been sequestered at home, desperate for something new to watch with their families. We are confident that when theaters reopen, studios will continue to benefit from the global theatrical box office, followed by traditional home release.”

Let me just say that if Universal is planning on releasing “F9” through VOD the same day as in theaters, that might be one of the worst decisions they’ve ever made. People go to those movies because they provide adrenaline rushes, the effect is not as great if watched on a TV, tablet, phone, or computer. This is why before this whole pandemic, I bought opening Thursday tickets. Luckily, I did get my money back. So if all Universal films are never coming to AMC again, it’s going to make it harder for me to review them as AMC locations are easy for me to access. The theater is a huge money-maker for Universal, to have hundreds of screens lost is not a great investment in the long run. People are inevitably going to get back into routines, and part of that routine is the movie theater. It might take awhile for some people, but if you’re someone like me who sees a difference in the experience from watching at home and in the theater, I’m going to choose the theater by a long mile. This is why I want to see “Tenet” in July. Heck, before this all happened, I probably had little to no intention of going to see the remake for “Mulan,” but I’ll show up because I want to support movie theaters.

But just you wait! There’s more! Universal, if you do nothing, cinema chains will double the offer! That’s two cinema chains not playing your movies, for a chance to lose more money! Cineworld, which currently owns the U.S. staple, Regal Entertainment Group, also said that they “will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows.” So, should Universal continue to release movies On Demand early, Regal, along with AMC, will not be playing those films in their venues. Alternate chains like Showcase Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse, and Arclight for example have not really said much about this matter. But remember, the theatrical window is a sacred bond of trust. If you’re putting a movie in theaters, chances are you have to follow it or face consequences.

Also, I wonder how much longer this will go on for, because guess what? If you go to Universal Studios Hollywood, you’ll notice on the CityWalk that there is a movie theater that currently goes by the name Universal Cinema. The theater has reserved seating, recliners, a Director’s Lounge, and an IMAX with Laser. By the way, that IMAX is also equipped with a 70mm projector, which if the theaters open back up in time for “Tenet,” will probably be used. Guess who owns that theater? AMC of all possible names! Who knows what is going to happen there?! As for Universal Orlando Resort, they’re safer in this circumstance as they currently have a Cinemark. They had an AMC at one point, but that has now closed. Gotta love drama.

NEW HOME VIDEO RELEASES

First off, it is Tuesday, May the 5th! Meaning it is the day after “Star Wars Day,” AKA May the 4th! For those who have not heard it already, May the 4th be with you and as for today, enjoy your Revenge of the Fifth! With that being said, there’s some new “Star Wars” content on Disney+, including a documentary on “The Mandalorian,” the series finale of “The Clone Wars,” and since we talk about movies on here, one of the new additions is “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the conclusion to “The Skywalker Saga.” As of now, the full “Skywalker Saga” is available on the service. The only theatrically released “Star Wars” movie not available on Disney+ at the moment is “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” However, the movie is currently on Netflix. If you are wondering when “Solo” will be coming to Disney+, it will be available starting July 9th, 2020. As for what’s coming On Demand, one example is “The Lodge,” which is about a soon-to-be-stepmom who is staying with her finace’s children at a holiday village, where strange events begin to occur. The film is available today, May 5th, on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital. Another film getting such a release on May 5th is “Arkansas” starring Liam Hemsworth and Vince Vaughn. It is the directorial debut of Clark Duke and was supposed to be shown at this year’s South by Southwest Festival. The film is a thriller about two men who live under the orders of a kingpin whom they’ve never met. Unfortunately, a deal goes wrong, meaning they could end up facing harsh consequences. “Arkansas” was supposed to theatrically release on May 1st, the same day that “Black Widow” would have hit theaters had it not been delayed. However, it is now available physically and digitally starting today, May 5th. One more film to avoid skipping over is “I Still Believe,” which is now out on DVD and Blu-ray as of today. The film is based on the true story and journey of Christian music star Jeremy Camp.

Thanks for reading the seventh part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” Happy Revenge of the Fifth, hope all the “Star Wars” fanatics in the world are happily going about their lives and not getting into fights in comments sections, because that’s impossible, right? Also, Happy Cinco de Mayo, on a Taco Tuesday coincidentally! Two days that go together quite well! Also, if you want remind yourself of a simpler time when movie theaters were open, be sure to check out my latest YouTube video where I document my experience of going to see “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” on opening night. Disney has already put copyright claims on it, but I really don’t care as I enjoyed making the video. Also, if you like the video, leave a like, if you want to subscribe, go ahead! Speaking of leaving likes, be sure to check out my Facebook page and immerse yourself to posts much shorter than these while also getting the latest updates from Scene Before! Since we’re still on the topic of likes, be sure to like this post if you’re enjoying the content, and as we’re continuing promotion, why not give this blog a follow either with a WordPress account or your email? I want to know, what is the biggest piece of movie news for you in regards to the COVID-19 crisis this past week or so? Did I miss anything? Also, how did you celebrate “Star Wars” day? Me personally, I started on May 3rd! TBS had a marathon and I watched for hours! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 6

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 6 of the Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

I’m telling you guys, this is getting annoying! We now have as many entries to this series, as “Sharknado” does within its own series! This is wrong! And honestly, this may be the biggest post yet, because a lot has happened in the entertainment realm! But of course, let’s get to the real world news first! By the way, if you’re asking, none of it has to do with Kim Jung Un. I’m only counting COVID-19 matters.

Today we’ll start in a film capital, California. Last week, Florida’s Duval County was in the news because people spent time at the area’s beaches that were recently reopened. This was referenced a ton on social media, which lead to the trend #FloridaMorons. While I never found #CaliforniaMorons to be trending on Twitter, some people did make tweets with that hashtag inserted. Before we go any further, here’s some highlights related to this subject, even if all of them don’t use the hashtag.

Once again, I did not see #CaliforniaMorons trending, but just to prove that I am not the only person who is noticing this…

I know, right?! I love California! I was just there a month ago! But, holy crap! This weekend, California was hit with warm weather, reaching 80 and 90 degrees. Since it is so warm, a lot of people thought it would be a good time to go to the beach. But of course, because COVID-19 ruins fun, there is a massive chance of spreading the infection. Naturally, much of the response on social media to this matter has been particularly negative. Speaking of beaches getting traffic, San Diego officially reopened their beaches starting Monday April 27th. However, this does come with restrictions. People cannot gather in groups, park, or lie down to get some rays. Question about parking, does Uber count? Drivers need to get by in these times! Plus, Fiesta Island, piers, and boardwalks will be closed. However, you can still swim, you can still fish, you can still surf. This is part of phase 1 rules in regards to San Diego beaches. California Governor Gavin Newsom had this to say about the matter…

“This virus doesn’t go home because it’s a beautiful sunny day around our coasts.”

Although, California is not done with announcing closures, because the Orange County Fair will officially be shut down for this year. This year’s fair was supposed to last for 23 days, on every day of the week except for Mondays and Tuesdays starting July 17th and ending August 16th. The fair, held in Costa Mesa, California, has previously seen over a million visitors in a year.

Two of the celebrities who have been taking up lots of spotlight in this time of a pandemic are Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, both of whom previously been tested positive for COVID-19. However, time has passed, and the two seem to be better then they were a month ago. Although they are back in the news for better reasons. Hanks and Wilson agreed to donate blood and plasma for a possible vaccine. After all, both individuals carry needed antibodies. I will be real, I f*cking hate needles. Even if they are necessary. I feel as if I’m gonna make it out of a burning building should a vaccine be injected into me in order to avoid getting COVID-19. However, if you want to convince an anti-vaxxer to get a vaccine, tell them that Tom Hanks will now be a part of you.

Speaking of Tom Hanks, the man known for such films like “Cast Away” and “Bridge of Spies” defended a child the other day. While he was not able to get physically involved, partially because of physical distancing limitations, he did take action. When Hanks and his wife, Wilson, were diagnosed with coronavirus, an 8-year-old male Australian student by the name of Corona De Vries wrote a letter to the couple saying he loved his own name, but he was often called the coronavirus, making him “sad and angry.” Hanks saw the letter and responded back suggesting “You got a friend in me,” a phrase inspired by “Toy Story,” another film Hanks is famous for.

Say what you want about celebrities being selfish and entitled, even in these times. Tom Hanks suggests otherwise.

Now I’ve talked quite a bit about Donald Trump, who as of recently, just invented the “Noble Prizes!”

By the way, if you are wondering why I am not using Trump’s tweet for this, it no longer exists!

Last week, after Trump suggested that the coronavirus “may not come back at all” for a second time, Dr. Anthony Fauci begs to differ. He suggested the possibility of a second outbreak after having a discussion with Robert Redfield, director of the CDC. This outbreak could hit in the fall, and be more complexing considering how the flu pops up at the end of the year.

Speaking of Trump, time for some bleach drinking! In the ambitious search for a COVID-19 cure, Donald Trump has suggested the possibility of injecting disinfectant in order to rid one’s body of COVID-19. Let me just start off by saying, yes, injecting disinfectant will VERY LIKELY get rid of COVID-19, because you’re about to f*cking go down along with it. Putting bleach in the body is good for a lot of things. Erasing the lyrics of “Baby Shark” from your head! Forgetting whatever the “Cats” movie was! Oh, and trying to become a f*cking ghost! The COVID-19 crisis is not going to be solved through disinfectant going inside you! Besides, everyone’s afraid to go to the supermarket right now! You think everyone’s gonna want to pile on top of each other in the same aisle grabbing Clorox?!

I’m done! I’m really just done! I just want to go to a restaurant and the movies, is that too much to ask?! Wait…

Before we go any further, I’m going to remind everyone that in my post from last week, I documented that Georgia was planning to reopen on April 27th. Well, that was yesterday. But when it comes to movie theaters, those are not reopening. I mentioned this specific before, but I thought I’d bring it up as a refresher. Georgia Theater Company, otherwise known as GTC Movies, is not planning on reopening theaters anytime soon. They intend on waiting until July, when Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” comes out, a movie which we’ll talk about later. Speaking of which, Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, has given theaters the green light to open starting Friday with 25% capacity. Chains like AMC and Cinemark do not plan on opening until the summer. Although in addition to that, a movie theater chain that is absolutely critical to Texas is taking similar actions. Specifically, Alamo Drafthouse. For the record, these theaters are not entirely shuttered, as some are open for takeout and delivery. After all, Alamo Drafthouse is known for its food selection. However, an Alamo Drafthouse spokesperson had this to say in regards to possibly reopening…

“Opening safely is a very complex project that involves countless new procedures and equipment, all of which require extensive training. This is something we cannot and will not do casually or quickly. We will not be opening this weekend. But know this, when we do open, we will be providing the safest possible experience for both our staff and our guests and we can’t wait to see you all again!”

It seems that Alamo going to follow the footsteps of other chains and maybe reopen during mid-summer. That is, should COVID-19 not affect the safety of theater patrons. Besides, not much material is coming out in theaters these days, including a movie I am going to talk about right now.

SCOOB! GOES STRAIGHT TO DIGITAL

One of the family films that was set to come out this year is “Scoob!,” which if you cannot tell, belongs to the “Scooby-Doo” IP. Now “Scooby-Doo” has had a lot of content over the years, but in May 2020 the franchise was about to have its latest theatrically released title. A couple of films within the IP have been presented this way already, and they were written by James Gunn, who of course is now famous for his work on the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films. This film was set to release May 15th, 2020, but Warner Bros. took it off the release calendar in response to the pandemic. Turns out, it will be coming out that day all along, BUT it won’t be in theaters, given how none are practically open right now. Instead, it is going to follow in the footsteps of “Trolls: World Tour,” the animated sequel by DreamWorks, now owned by Comcast, and release onto VOD. Meaning that services including Prime Video, Vudu, FandangoNOW, and Google Play will be getting the film. I’ll be honest, had this pandemic not been going on this year, there’s a solid chance that I might miss out on “Scoob!” if it were in the theater. The only reason why I would even consider seeing it, is because I feel the need to see five animated flicks by the end of the year, because I need enough nominees at the Jackoff Awards that I do in the winter. Although, it definitely does have a market. Families would probably have gone to see it. Generations who grew up with “Scooby-Doo” will recognize the movie and pass the torch to their children. Had it stayed in theaters, it could have made for a fun outing. But of course, it’s not in theaters.

“Trolls: World Tour” was not the worst option of all the movies that could go straight to VOD instead of theaters. A lot of younger kids recognize the film, and since sometimes bringing kids to the movies can be obnoxious, putting it in a home environment is not the worst idea. That is until Amazon’s 48 hour rental period expires and they beg for the parents to spend another $20. “Trolls: World Tour” landed one of the biggest digital debuts ever, and “Scoob!” could do the same, but that is going to depend on how many kids are looking forward to it. I think there was more of an appetite for a “Trolls” sequel among children than there was for a “Scooby-Doo” movie. At the same time however, “Scooby-Doo” has had a long history of being a product for the home environment. I grew up having a piece “Scooby-Doo” media in my collection. A lot of television shows and cartoons have been a part of the “Scooby-Doo” brand. From a production standpoint, this could come off as something that was meant for theaters, but may be remembered as another fine entry to the “Scooby-Doo” home media collection.

THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND GOES STRAIGHT TO DIGITAL

Had South by Southwest happened this year, one of the films that I would have been eager to see was Judd Apatow’s “The King of Staten Island.” The film had an advantage of being a higher-profile title, alongside such movies including “The Lovebirds,” which is now going to Netflix. This film had a bright future on the big screen. Aside from a SXSW debut this March, it was supposed to come out June 19th of this year in theaters. I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that “The King of Staten Island” is getting bumped up a week to June 12th, 2020. So it’ll come out a week earlier. The bad news is, if you were looking forward to seeing Judd Apatow’s latest film in theaters, that’s not happening, and this does not come as a surprise. I have a feeling that part of this not only has to do with analyzing the potential box office results ahead, but maybe it has a bit to do with “Tenet,” which I think is going to be a better example of a film that is going to try to entice people to get back in the theaters (again, more on that later). However, starting June 12th, “The King of Staten Island,” a semi-autobiographical comedy-drama starring Pete Davidson will be available On Demand through various services. This is a release technique similar to the recently mentioned “Scoob!.” The film also features notable names including Marisa Tomei (Spider-Man: Homecoming, My Cousin Vinny), Pamela Adlon (Bob’s Burgers, Better Things), Steve Buscemi (Miracle Workers, Fargo), and Bill Burr (Breaking Bad, Date Night).

While this technique has been done for a film like “Trolls: World Tour,” which again, was fairly successful. A film with this much name power that was supposed to be in theaters has not really gotten this treatment all that much during the pandemic. I see at light at the end of the tunnel, but as of now, “The King of Staten Island” is perhaps an adult version of the “Trolls: World Tour” experiment. I honestly don’t know how this is going to go, as “Trolls: World Tour” likely had several advantages. First, that movie was going for a wider audience including children, families, etc. “The King of Staten Island” is an R rated picture. No kids allowed on this flick! Plus, since this film probably won’t be heading to a platform like Netflix, where you can watch the movie for free as long as you have a monthly subscription, it could suffer from less views because people are cheap and they’d rather watch something free than pay a rental price. “Trolls: World Tour” might as well be a product that can be put on bunches of times just to shut kids up on some occasions. It may be expensive, but the peace and quiet could be worth it. Although, Comcast’s streaming service, Peacock, which is now available for Xfinity customers, is hoping to expand its customer base starting July 15th. Maybe “The King of Staten Island” will end up on the service as soon as possible for everyone to enjoy.

Also, side note, this movie is incorrect. Pete Davidson IS NOT the king of Staten Island. The Impractical Jokers are the kings of Staten Island. That’s a fact. Prove. Me. Wrong. I dare you.

A SURPRISING SUCCESS FOR TROLLS: WORLD TOUR

Thought I was done talking about “Trolls: World Tour?” Well, I’m not! Because according to The Wall Street Journal, it turns out “Trolls: World Tour” has officially made over $100 million in a matter of just a few weeks! This ultimately means that this digital experiment Universal was trying out happened to be relatively successful so far. Again, I think part of this mainly has to do with “Trolls: World Tour” being a family movie that kids will probably be watching over and over again to the point of becoming annoying. However, it’s an interesting success story as movies like this, including “Trolls: World Tour’s” predecessor, happen to gain massive successes from big theatrical runs. I should also point out that the first film currently has made more money at the domestic box office, specifically $153.7 million. But who knows? Maybe that will be broken. Will this mean Universal does more straight-to-digital releases in the future? Honestly, I hope not. While this may have worked for a film like “Trolls: World Tour,” which I think kids were going to watch no matter what, movies in general are often built up best by word of mouth in an attempt to get people out of the house. I just hope for the love of Pete that the ninth “Fast & Furious” DOES NOT get a straight to digital treatment. As for other factors to consider, “Trolls: World Tour” is also one of the only new films to watch right now, and since we can’t leave our house, maybe that has a contributing factor to how willing we are to stay in and pay a rental price on the movie. If we were in normalcy, who knows how this would have played out? But if you ask me, EVERY MOVIE is better in a theater. Mark my words.

SPIDER-DELAY! SPIDER-DELAY! DOES WHATEVER A SPIDER-DELAY DOES!

In part 5, I’ve practically given DC Comics its own section to talk about in terms of delays. This time, I’m going to be doing this for Marvel, both on the sides of Disney and Sony. Starting off with Sony, one of their hit movies, the Academy Award-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” was supposed to get a sequel released on April 8th, 2022. That’s not happening anymore as the sequel has officially been pushed back to October 7th, 2022. It is hard to know what could come of “Spider-Verse 2” from this release date. Maybe it could do what “Venom” did and be able to separate itself in a month full of horror movies, not that “Venom” didn’t have some elements of the genre. For all I know this could work, because the first film won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Critics’ Choice, and seven Annies. The first film by the way released in December. I feel like the Best Animated Feature category is the least important one when it comes to releasing a film at a certain time, but experience has suggested that when a film releases later in the year, it usually gets some awards buzz. “Spider-Verse 2” could not just be a big hit, but another award winner.

Speaking of “Spider-Man,” the third Tom Holland “Spider-Man” movie was delayed! This third “Spider-Man” film was supposed to be connected to the MCU and release in theaters July 16th, 2021 as part of Marvel’s fourth phase of films. However, the film now sits in the month of November, taking a spot on the fifth day of the month. I am disappointed that I have to wait for the film, but the film opens on my birthday weekend, so I’ll take the wins as they come along. This news may have ties to how filming has not really been happening, and I am willing to bet that the delay for Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” now coming out on June 25th, 2021, plays a bit into this. After all, that too is technically a “Spider-Man” property. Having these two movies very close to each other could potentially be weird. Speaking of Marvel…

THOUGHT SPIDEY WAS ALONE? THE MARVEL RELEASE CHANGES SHALL ASSEMBLE!

One of the most complex questions right now in regards to the pandemic is the wonder of what is going to happen to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was not that long ago that “Black Widow” was delayed from this May to November, taking “Eternals'” spot on the release calendar. This resulted in pushback upon pushback upon pushback. Guess what? “Spider-Man” is not the only Marvel character affected this week. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which was supposed to release the same weekend as “Spider-Man 3,” is now getting pushed back to March 25th, 2022. Interestingly however, “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which was supposed to come out February 18th, 2022 as of recent times, is getting bumped up a week and is now coming out February 11th, 2022. Why is that? I don’t know for sure, but maybe to get couples to go see it on Valentine’s Day. With a title like “Love and Thunder,” that’s probably the reason. And now, for everything else!

THE DELAYS NEVER END!

Going back to Sony, one of the interesting projects that they have held onto for some time is a movie based on the popular video game franchise “Uncharted,” which, appropriately, is a Playstation exclusive. Even though Tom Holland’s “Spider-Man 3” is getting pushed back to November 2021, “Uncharted,” which he is set star in, is getting bumped up. Finally! Some positive news about this movie! I have never played the video games, even though I have heard solid things about them, but as for the movie, it just goes to show that even in development, video game movies are cursed. However, “Uncharted,” which was supposed to release October 16th, 2021, is moving up to the summer of that year! As of now, it is taking the spot where “Spider-Man 3” once was! Hopefully, this optimistic bump means that production will be happening as soon as possible, considering how filming was shut down due to COVID-19 on day one. Who knows what’ll happen? This movie is an enigma! As for other projects under Sony’s control, “Fatherhood,” a new comedy starring Kevin Hart is being pushed back from October 23rd, 2020 to April 2nd, 2021. Speaking of Kevin Hart, another movie where he’ll appear, “Man From Toronto,” once set for a September 17th, 2021 release, is now coming out November 20th, 2021. And if you thought “Spider-Verse 2” was going to be the only affected animated title, you’re wrong. “Connected,” the upcoming film produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, was delayed a month. The film, which was previously expected September 18th, 2020, will now be coming out October 23rd, 2020. “Vivo,” featuring songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” fame, was supposed to release April 26, 2021, but now is getting pushed back to June 4, 2021. Can’t believe this is a thing, “Hotel Transylvania 4!” I guess this is also known as, “Adam Sandler needs an excuse be in a movie that won’t go straight to Netflix.” By the way, “Uncut Gems” is brilliant and you should watch it if you haven’t done so already. That is even if it does try to convince an audience that the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut has a sportsbook. Anyway, “Hotel Transylvania 4” is yet another movie that is not going down the calendar, but up! Originally set for a December 22nd, 2021 release, the animated sequel will now take the August 6th, 2021 spot. This could be a strategic move as it could give families something to do over the summer, while not having to compete with Universal’s “Sing 2,” which is set to release the same day “Hotel Transylvania 4” was once supposed to come out.

Also getting delayed, Tom Cruise is gonna have to wait a little bit longer before he attempts to kill himself once more, or more specifically, twice more. The seventh and eighth installments to the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, which will be directed by Christopher McQuarrie, also known for helming the fifth and sixth installments in the franchise, both have previous release dates set to self-destruct. The seventh “Mission: Impossible” installment was supposed to come out July 23rd, 2021, once again standing out as a summer staple. As of now, the film is coming out November 19th, 2021, just before Thanksgiving. As for the eighth installment, once planned to release August 5th, 2022, that is now set for a release date that I am personally digging, November 4th, 2022. Why am I stoked? Because it’s my birthday. From what I could imagine however, these two movies may have quite a bit to do with each other and could probably go well together in back to back viewings. Kind of similar to putting “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” together. There is always a chance that “Mission: Impossible 7” could suck more than anything that has sucked before, thus lowering my hype levels for the eighth installment. However, “Mission: Impossible” is a peculiar series that honestly has gotten better with each installment, so anything is possible.

NEW HOME RELEASES

I usually save this for last, but this time, my next post has more of a climactic vibe, so this is going to be my penultimate section. When it comes to digital releases, perhaps one of the most notable titles coming out this week is “The Photograph.” This debuted in theaters last February, stars LaKeith Stanfield (Sorry To Bother You, Knives Out) alongside Chelsea Peretti and features intertwining love stories. This seems appropriate, because, again, this movie came out in February. Although for Netflix, one movie that just came out is “Extraction,” starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Ghostbusters) as a black market mercenary. The film is not one that I plan to review, however it is also one that I am hearing solid things about. Granted, the story is nothing to write home about, but if this film were to be solely judged based on action, I’m hearing it slaps. And this honestly does not surprise me as it is written by Anthony and Joe Russo and directed by Sam Hargrave, a stunt coordinator behind “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Atomic Blonde,” and “Avengers: Endgame.” As for whether or not this is the next “John Wick” is something that you will have to decide for yourself. Also, if you have any plans to tune into Amazon, the SXSW lineup is now available, which was made in response to the cancellation of the ambitious annual event held in Austin, TX. If you have Disney+, your inner “Star Wars” nerd is going to be happy, because not only are you soon going to be getting more of “The Clone Wars,” you’re not only getting a documentary on “The Mandalorian,” but “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” will be available on Disney+ starting May 4th, known by the fan community as “Star Wars Day.” From then on, the complete “Skywalker Saga” will be available on the service. Speaking of action-packed films…

TENET IS LOCKED FOR JULY 17TH

This is going to be the main topic of this entire post. For those of you who don’t know, Christopher Nolan is coming out with his latest blockbuster title, “Tenet,” which had a trailer release this past winter. At the same time, a short preview attached to IMAX screenings of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” was shown for a limited time. This film, among all others, HAS NOT been delayed. And if you have talked to me at all recently, it is a film that is almost my most anticipated of the year. It’s just one spot under “Dune” if you are all curious. “Tenet” is a film that has literally been designed for the movie theater experience. It was shot using film stock through IMAX and 70mm cameras, it’s got a labyrinth of a concept similar to Nolan’s other films, and the cast looks promising. Some attached names include John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, and of course, the one and only Michael Caine. I have been worried for the longest time that this film would get gravitated from this summer, taking away yet another big movie. It’s happened with “Top Gun: Maverick,” it’s happened with “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” it’s also happened with “Morbius.” However, “Tenet” happens to be one of the last men standing in this battle against the invisible enemy. That’s also what it will continue to be going forward, because IndieWire suggests that “Tenet” will be ready to open July 17th of THIS YEAR unless theaters are closed. Is this wishful thinking? It’s possible, but this article gives me hope, and I will state, this is not the first time I am hearing this statement. However, just to hear this be reinforced a month later, is extremely fulfilling. One of my big worries when it comes to “Tenet” is the possibility of it being a lone wolf in the movie theater, there is not much of a reason for the film to play in seemingly dead space. But at the same time, Christopher Nolan has constantly marketed “Tenet” as an event film. It’s an expensive blockbuster clearly meant for the summer. It’s got a similar vibe to Nolan’s own “Inception.” I will also point out that should quarantine end around the country starting July, Christopher Nolan can utilize a huge marketing push at the end of the game, maybe reminding people how exciting it is to go see a movie in a theater. Nolan is all about that atmosphere. Nolan is not a streaming guy. In fact, when this all started in the US, Nolan wrote an opinion article in The Washington Post where he called movie theaters “a vital part of American social life.” Before hearing what IndieWire suggests in their article, I had a rather bleak thought process as to what theaters would look like only being able to show “Tenet.” A few screens would be open, while every other one is some classic title that maybe not everybody is gonna pay $12 to see when they can they rent it on Amazon. Turns out, IndieWire sees a much more optimistic point of view. IndieWire suggests the following:

“Even if theaters start opening in June (Georgia’s aggressive early plan could permit openings in early May, but NATO has stated it prefers a nationwide, concerted rollout), few will attend without new films. Going before other big films would allow “Tenet” to play on virtually every screen in the country.”

Think about it. How many films have been delayed? From smaller titles that nobody has even heard of to the big blockbusters like those that Marvel cranks out every few months, despite their differences, they have something in common. They got delayed. A few got delayed not too far up calendar while others got kicked into another year, but nevertheless, they got delayed. “Tenet,” as the last man standing, could literally possess every auditorium in every theater, at least in the United States. This is something that during NORMAL times, I would be scared of a movie doing, but now, it makes sense and I am flat out encouraging it, because something needs to light the spark. Plus, should theaters reduce capacity for safety concerns, “Tenet” has themselves covered. They have more theaters and auditoriums that could supply everybody. If you have an AMC near you that has a bunch of standard screens, an IMAX screen, a Dolby Cinema screen all in one place, there’s a solid chance that they’ll use one or two, maybe another auditorium for standard screenings of a blockbuster. In addition, the IMAX or Dolby, depending on the deal they’ve made regarding the film, will also feature said blockbuster. If you have a decent-sized theater, for all I know, “Tenet” could take every screening possible. Can you imagine a 25 screen theater with “Tenet” on virtually every single one? It’s going to be the State of the Union Address of movies. There’s no alternate program you can resort to, it’s “Tenet” or bust! And if this were a film that could easily fit in for a streaming environment, had a small budget, or lacked some of name recognition, I’d probably say maybe this theater project is overblown and a bit beyond one’s reach. However, the film was designed for the theatrical experience, is a blockbuster, and is helmed by the man who I personally think is my favorite director of all time. For all I know, he could get another Oscar nomination for this film depending on how this year pans out.

The slogan of “Tenet” by the way, and hopefully I am not scaring anybody, is “time runs out.” Let’s just hope that time will not run out on this film and our chances of seeing it as early as possible, in as lively of an environment as possible. In a season of movies getting delayed like flights for United Airlines, “Tenet” is possibly going to be the last man standing. The fight against the invisible enemy shall continue, and we shall not stop until we can successfully get millions of butts sitting in cinema seats. Warner Bros., Christopher Nolan, the entire cast and crew of “Tenet,” to say I am rooting for you is an understatement. For all I know, if “Tenet” successfully enters theaters in July, I will be there opening night for IMAX 70mm. This virus is ruining Hollywood, and now we need to give it the Hollywood ending it absolutely deserves.

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Thanks for reading the sixth part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” Look, I love doing Scene Before, but if this is what I’ll be talking about for the rest of my life, it’s going to get tiresome. I will point out that I left the house for the first time all month on the 25th. There’s that. I just want to go see a movie. If movie theaters collectively do not survive this crisis, I think I might almost be done with movies. One of the reasons why I love movies is because they are experiences, and these experiences are best had in a distraction-free environment either by myself, a few other people, or even a full house. Are the tickets and food sometimes overpriced? Sure, but moviegoing is a staple of the economy and I would flat out scream up to sky if they disappeared. PLEASE… Stay home as much as you can. Do *your* part if you want a better chance of me giving my thoughts on movies for you to possibly see. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! While it may not cure the coronavirus, if you want a better use of your time than drinking bleach, check out the Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did I miss anything related to COVID-19 and film? What big piece of news stands out to you? Or, since it relates to this post, what do you think are the odds of “Tenet” getting delayed? At this point, it’s a competitive and strategic game of chess. Who knows at this point? Leave your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 4

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 4 of the all new Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

As usual, we deal with real world matters first. Since Easter was this past weekend, gatherings at churches and homes within one’s collective connections of a family that was commonplace in years past managed to take a backseat this year.

California has recently extended its stay at home order from April 19th to May 15th. Speaking of California, the state recently joined forces with other nearby states including Oregon and Washington in what they call the Western States Pact. The three announced a plan to put health first and deliver a more scientific-based focus compared to a political focus to stopping the coronavirus. The states are still building specific plans for their area, but they are nevertheless working together to stop the spread.

Speaking of which, the northeast portion of the United States is engaging in something similar. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania are joining forces in their own coalition. So, remember all those requests for Andrew Cuomo to run for President of the United States? That won’t be happening anytime soon, but when it comes to coronavirus matters, he is currently dealing with more than just New York. Speaking of Presidents of the United States…

President Donald J. Trump stated this Monday that he is the one that should have control on opening the country back up. He suggests, “When somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total.” Trump also stated he wants to open the United States back up by May 1st, which close medical expert Anthony Fauci declares is “a bit overly optimistic.”

Just today, Andrew Cuomo referred to Trump this morning on NBC’s “Today,” suggesting “We do not have a king, we have a president.” Cuomo is doing what he can to make sure that the state of New York opens back up at what he considers to be the right time for everyone’s health. While Trump is suggesting May 1st, Cuomo fears that this all-powerful decision made by Trump will lead to “a constitutional crisis like you haven’t seen in decades,” as he stated in MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Speaking of Andrew Cuomo, and somewhat transitioning to movie news a bit early here, he suggested the possibility of making drive-in theaters an exception to non-essential businesses that remain closed. Keep in mind, drive-ins have still been in operation during the ongoing crisis, but it does not mean that there are some that are not in operation, plus there are others that are just closed because it’s not the proper season for a drive-in to be open. Cuomo suggested, “Where is the public safety issue? It’s a drive-in theater. You’re in the car with the same people.” He is not wrong. Drive-ins make for a fun night out while also promoting social distancing. I would not mind drive-ins opening up, but the problem is… What movies are they going to play? Are just going to play “Trolls: World Tour” over and over? Maybe they’ll bring back some classics since there’s nothing else to do.

Going outside the United States, specifically in Wuhan, China, where early cases of the virus originated, the city opened back up after a lively lightshow and countdown declaring the disappearance of COVID-19. Despite the reopening, restrictions still appear to be in place including the closure of schools, shops, and sadly, cinemas. But one thing that has opened is the region’s wet markets. Outsiders are suggesting immediate closure of said wet markets as it serves live animals, including bats, which sources suggest is the reason why COVID-19 spread in the first place.

But of course, we have some movie news to talk about like usual. More delays, more new releases on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital, and some big news involving acclaimed filmmaker Bong Joon Ho (don’t worry, that part is all good news). Also, there’s a big movie that tried something new this weekend, going straight to digital while also having a theatrical release. Before we dive into that, I do want to point out that despite there being a major pandemic, some movie theaters are still open. Keep in mind, many of these theaters are drive-ins. This is now old news, but according to Deadline, 14 movie theaters remained open on the first weekend of April. I also want to point out another article I saw from The Wrap, which suggests that “Trolls: World Tour” played in 21 drive-in theaters this weekend. Even in desperate times, theaters are still active. Speaking of optimistic news, here’s more!

JAMES GUNN SAYS GUARDIANS 3 AND THE SUICIDE SQUAD WON’T BE DELAYED

Usually when I dive into these main topics during the series, I have often emphasized the bad news at hand. A common example is when a major film gets delayed such as “F9,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” or “Top Gun: Maverick.” However, it’s about time we get some good news in here and talk about a couple of films that are not being affected by the outbreak, both of which are being directed by James Gunn. To specify, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which is a big movie, especially since it’s the third consecutive entry to the franchise being helmed by Gunn himself, but also “The Suicide Squad,” which has finished filming in February and is set to release August 6th, 2021. Gunn spent time on Twitter recently taking questions from fans and he had some notable things to say regarding these two films.

Alright, this resembles some decent progress on the film, and it shows that even in a time like this, people like Gunn in the entertainment industry are still working. But let’s see the next tweet.

Keep in mind, “The Suicide Squad” is not set to come out for a bit under a year and half, so there is plenty of time to edit the film, develop a marketing campaign, and lay out all the elements needed for the film’s post-production process. So the film is coming, and should this pandemic fizzle, there is a solid chance that “The Suicide Squad” will be in theaters during 2021. Now what about that other big comic book James Gunn has up his sleeve?

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is not currently listed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s fourth phase, but there have been previously established plans to make the film. Unfortunately, the film was supposed to come out this year, but due to James Gunn’s controversial tweets leaking, his business relationship with Disney was no more and he was no longer attached to direct the third installment to the franchise. Judging by this tweet right here, Gunn still seems to be working on the film, but an official release date seems rather uncertain at this point. IMDb lists it to come out in 2021, but given how Marvel has many other projects going on, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” might have to wait. But “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is nevertheless a film that I will see should I get the chance to witness it come out, so this information pleases me to say the least. I was not the biggest fan of “Vol. 2,” but I am curious to see what Gunn could deliver to this third installment.

MORE MOVIES GET DELAYED

But of course, with good news, comes bad news. In this case, the bad news is that yet another delay is happening. As if Pixar didn’t suffer enough already by having to put “Onward” on digital early, they just pushed back “Soul” to November. Nobody behind Pixar seems to be popping bottles at this point. “Soul” was originally supposed to come out June 19th, but now has been pushed back to November 20th. By the way, this is releasing the same day as “Godzilla vs. Kong.” I honestly have no idea how well that movie is going to do box-office wise, but given Pixar’s name recognition and since there already has been some anticipation towards this film, there could be a chance that “Soul” is the box office champ of the two when it comes to seeing how they play out on opening weekend. The film is directed by Pete Docter, who also directed 2015’s “Inside Out,” which this film honestly reminds me of. Kemp Powers will co-direct by the way. While conceptually different, “Soul” seems to present the vibe of “Inside Out,” not to mention a somewhat similar concept. The film follows a musician (Jamie Foxx) who loses his passion for music. After being transported out of his body, he interacts with an infant soul while trying to return to said body. The film definitely sounds like it could be emotional, which would not be much of a shocker for a film by Pixar. But now here’s a problem for not just this film, but a bunch of others coming out this year. I don’t know if it is just me, but it now feels like November is CRAMMED with popular titles. From “Soul” to “No Time to Die” to “Black Widow.” While I could look at this as a benefit because it likely means this November will be a pop culture haven, it’s also a negative because I imagine some films that could potentially be big will underperform because they are in such a congested schedule. Or to make matters more interesting, November is also a big month for award season, and now there is probably a bigger focus on pop culture titles that might not be awarded much of anything as opposed to what could be nominated for the Academy’s Best Picture in a couple months.

Also, remember how “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” got delayed to late July? Paramount’s “Infinite,” an upcoming sci-fi flick starring Mark Wahlberg (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Ted), which was originally come out July 31st, has officially been pushed back to Memorial Day weekend in 2021. The film follows a man whose hallucinations are visions of his past lives. I would like to go into some of my past lives at this point just to get away from whatever the hell is going on right now. Think I was done talking about “SpongeBob?” Well I’m not! I say so because the film has been delayed again, but this time only by a week. As of now, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” is coming out August 7th.

TROLLS: WORLD TOUR DEBUTS DIGITALLY

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I’ve talked about this news already, but given how this does document a rare incident, I might as well talk about it. Certain movies like “The Irishman” have a limited run in theaters before being put on Netflix, but for “Trolls: World Tour,” the sequel to DreamWorks’ successful 2016 flick, that’s a different story. You won’t be able to find it on Netflix, but you will be able to find it through services including Prime Video, FandangoNOW, and Vudu. The reason, Universal wanted to put “Trolls: World Tour” out on digital the same day they put it out in theaters. This is kind of an unprecedented situation as movies typically start in theaters and there is a waiting period until the movie comes out on digital and DVD. But nope, Universal thought it would be better to just digitally release the film. I have not seen the film, in fact, I have no plans on seeing the film given how I have not watched the original, but others did manage to show up for this new installment. The movie managed to make more through its digital run than “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” did when it debuted digitally. “Trolls: World Tour” managed to make around $30 million according to reports. This is compared to “Fallen Kingdom,” which managed to rack up $2-3 million. Keep in mind, these reports are exclusive to the United States. Also, another thing to keep in mind, that even though many of the purchases were through digital platforms, theaters were open during the initial days of “Trolls: World Tour,” many of which are drive-ins, so it is not like everybody had to be stuck in their house to watch it. Also, while $30 million may be considered successful in this circumstance, the movie cost $90 million to make, so there could be a chance that Universal will lose money over this. Even though a $19.99 rental for 48 hours can cost more than a single movie ticket, the target demographic for “Trolls: World Tour” is families, especially kids. You can take a family of four to the theater and pay double that price to see the movie, maybe even more. It’s also short of what the first movie raked in on its opening weekend back in 2016, which was over $46 million. If this sequel was in theaters, it probably could have surpassed that due to factors such as name recognition. My biggest wonder for “Trolls: World Tour” is how well it will do over these next few days, not to mention next weekend. I say that because, sure, the movie can have excellent debut to rave about. But if we are treating this as the closest thing to a theatrical release we can get, we have to consider how much of a drop it could make this following weekend. Will it make $15 million? $12 million? $10 million? Could it possibly make more this weekend than it did last weekend? Only time will tell. This straight to digital rollout is an experiment if there ever was one, and its chances towards success have recently shown that maybe theaters COULD have been much better for “Trolls: World Tour,” but this is a new way of doing things, and if we are still in this crisis, things could change.

MY SPY GOES STRAIGHT TO PRIME VIDEO

For those of you who don’t know, “My Spy,” the film where Dave Bautista goes undercover and makes a connection with a nine-year old girl, is a movie that has been promoted from time to time by STX here in the states has already released theatrically in select regions including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. But for the United States, it’s a different story. The film has already had free screenings before it was supposed to come out, one of which I went to in January by the way. But the film has had a rough history when it comes to getting a proper release. “My Spy” was supposed to release on August 23rd, 2019. The film had a trailer put out a year ago, so the promotion and marketing process was getting into gear. However, it was pulled from STX’s release schedule in July. The next release date that was announced for the film was March 13th, 2020. And of course, to get the ball rolling on word of mouth and that sort of thing, free screenings started popping up and I got to attend one of them. But, just in the snap of a finger, the release date changed from March 13th to April 17th. I would imagine that the COVID-19 crisis could be a contributing factor, but I also wonder if STX thought if it would be a better time for the film to release in terms of financial gain compared to competition. Nevertheless, it was just announced on April 8th that the film is now going to be distributed by Amazon Studios and instead of going to theaters, it is going directly to Prime Video. So if you are a Prime member, you are likely going to be able to watch “My Spy” for free on the service.

CBS SCHEDULES SUNDAY MOVIE NIGHTS

CBS is a leading name for television. Their standard channels air daytime staples like “The Price Is Right” and “The Young and the Restless” along with notable shows at night such as “Young Sheldon,” “MacGyver,” and “Mom.” Meanwhile, they have been building a name for themselves through streaming by providing material such as a couple of “Star Trek” original shows and a spinoff of “The Good Wife” known as “The Good Fight” through CBS All Access. But if you get access to the main CBS channel, which I’m sure a lot of you do, one thing you might want to keep an eye on is their schedule for May. Every Sunday, CBS is going to air movies under the Paramount label. This will begin with a movie that is very likely to garner attention, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” In addition to that “Indiana Jones” film, the network is also airing “The Last Crusade.” Oddly enough, they are skipping over “Temple of Doom.” Other movies to be aired by CBS will include “Titanic,” “Forrest Gump,” and “Mission: Impossible.” This run will last for five Sundays from May 3rd to May 31st. By the way, all the movies are scheduled to begin at 8PM, except for “Titanic,” which will start at 7PM. Earlier on in the series, I discussed that ESPN was going to air movies on Friday nights, said movies are all Disney-owned and focus on sports. One thing that I think would help CBS in a case like this compared to ESPN just a little bit is its accessibility. CBS is a slightly more recognizable channel and unlike ESPN, you can get it on an antenna.

HULU ACHIEVES BEST PICTURE WINNER PARASITE

One of my favorite films of the past year is the Bong Joon Ho-directed masterpiece, “Parasite.” Lucky for me, I own the Blu-ray, therefore I have the ability to watch the film as much as I please through a physical disc. But if you have Hulu, you can consider yourself lucky because “Parasite” is now available on the service. For the record, the film is not the first of its kind to be on Hulu. To be clear, the film was distributed in the States by Neon, which also helped distribute titles including “I, Tonya,” “The Beach Bum,” and “Honeyland.” Films like these have also made it to Hulu. So if you wanted to watch “Parasite” without paying much, just make sure you have a Hulu subscription and you’re good to go. And remember, it won the Academy’s vote for Best Picture, so every film aficionado will tell you that it is bloody important. If you are a little skeptical on watching “Parasite” because it is in Korean, let me just remind you of this quote given by director Bong Joon Ho himself.

“Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

Speaking of Bong Joon Ho, his 2013 work “Snowpiercer,” which is being adapted into a series set to air on TNT, is coming out for the first time in the United Kingdom on DVD and Blu-ray. The film is set to release on May 25th. It’s one heck of a time to be Bong Joon Ho.

NEW HOME VIDEO RELEASES

Stuck at home? Jack’s here to help! This week for digital has got a few new movies coming your way. For starters, we have “Underwater,” one of the last films to display the 20th Century Fox label. For the record, Disney did complete their acquisition of Fox’s assets during March 2019, but for a little under a year, they kept putting out films like “Ford v Ferrari” that had the studio label that has achieved fame. Although, with the recent release of “The Call of the Wild,” they are now using 20th Century Studios instead. Sticking with “Underwater,” the film stars Kristen Stewart alongside a crew of researchers as their underwater facility is hit with an earthquake. The film is a box office bomb, making $37.2 million on a $50 million budget. It has a 47% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 60% audience rating, so it’s hard to know what exactly you’ll think of it upon first glance. The film is also now available on DVD and Blu-ray if you prefer the physical copy.

“Fantasy Island,” which is based on a TV show of the same name, is now available for digital purchase. If you want to wait for a rental option, that is coming May 12th, the same day the film comes out on DVD and Blu-ray. Keep in mind, the film has a 4.6 on IMDb, which might not be the best of signs.

Also coming out, “The Rhythm Section.” This action flick stars Blake Lively and Jude Law, and is about a woman whose family dies in a plane crash. This woman joins the world of espionage as she seeks vengeance. The film is not out on DVD and Blu-ray until April 28th, but it is available for digital purchase today.

Thanks for reading the fourth part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” Even in the apocalypse, there is one thing I can promise, and that my friends, is content. Maybe not the content that I want to make, but content nevertheless. Last week I said that I’d probably get shoved into an abyss by STX executives if I talk about “My Spy” at this point. So with that in mind, now that it is owned by Amazon and has no official release date, I will probably be shoved into an abyss by Amazon executives, or maybe even Jeff Bezos himself, if I talk about “My Spy” at this point. So what is happening with the movie is clear, but when I will review it, is unclear. Only time will tell. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, is there any big news I missed regarding COVID-19 and entertainment over the past week? Also, since it is appropriate, what are your thoughts on “Parasite?” Personally, I think it is one of the most twisted movies I have seen in recent memory and it is a blast from start to finish. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!