A year later, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ruin the best laid plans of mice and movie theaters. Despite the fact that the U.S. is now leading the world in vaccinations (cases of the virus have thankfully been on the decline, with some upticks), major Hollywood studios are still wary of the current marketplace.
Just yesterday, for example, Sony decided to push Venom: Let There Be Carnage to Friday, Sep. 17 (via The Hollywood Reporter). Until this week, the Andy Serkis-directed sequel was eyeing a summer release of June 25. The original plan was to release the Marvel feature last fall.
Written by Kelly Marcel (co-scribe on the first movie), Let There Be Carnage will fully introduce the villain known as Cletus Kasady. Played by Zombieland's Woody Harrelson, the character is a crazed murderer who becomes even more dangerous when he bonds with a symbiote named Carnage. Tom Hardy returns to play Eddie Brock/Venom, leading a cast of Michelle Williams ("Anne Weying"), Naomie Harris ("Shriek"). Reid Scott ("Dan Lewis"), Stephen Graham, and Sean Delaney.
Released in October 2018, Venom wasn't critically-acclaimed, but still managed to rake in over $850 million at the worldwide box office. The film (directed by Ruben Fleischer) also pleased the character's creator, Todd McFarlane.
"I only went in [to the new Venom] selfishly for one reason: To see whether he was gonna be big and gnarly," McFarlane told SYFY WIRE in 2019. "That's how I designed him. He's a monster. And Eddie Brock is buried in there. It's not Eddie Brock [who] turns into a monster; he's a monster that happens to disguise himself as Eddie Brock or whomever. To me, I just wanted to see a big hulking character, which the director, Ruben Fleischer, put on the screen."
But there is still some hope for the 2021 box office... if Black Widow is actually released in early May. Speaking with Bloomberg, Disney CEO Bob Chapek admitted that the ultimate decision on Black Widow's theatrical debut will really come down to the wire.
“Flexibility is something that we've been working hard against. Our situation and our conditions change,” he said. “Just a few weeks ago, theaters in New York and Los Angeles weren’t even open. And now, all of a sudden they’re open, so we’re waiting to see exactly how guests [and] prospective theatergoers respond to these reopenings. We’re going to remain flexible. We’ll make the call probably at the last minute in terms of how these films come to market — whether it’s Black Widow or any other title ... As you know, we've had unbelievable success in theaters and we think it's important to build our franchises. But at the same time, we don't think it's the only way to do it. So, we're gonna remain flexible and see what happens over the next couple months."
Prior to the global health crisis, Black Widow was supposed to launch Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe last May. That responsibility eventually fell to WandaVision. Set between the events of Civil War and Infinity War, the standalone Black Widow project (helmed by Cate Shortland) will pull back the curtain Natasha Romanoff's backstory.