The penultimate domino has fallen. Warner Bros. and Legendary have announced that they’ll be moving Dune from its Dec. 18 release date to Oct. 1, 2021. The delay makes Wonder Woman 1984 the only major blockbuster to land in 2020 now and comes after No Time to Die pushed to next year as well, triggering Regal cinemas to shut down all their theaters.
The delay shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as Warner Bros. moved Wonder Woman 1984 to Christmas Day a while ago, and rumors started then that Dune wouldn’t release so close to another major franchise from the same studio. However, the delay of No Time to Die and the subsequent shuttering of all Regal theaters and Cineworld theaters in the U.K. has stunned the industry, and anyone releasing a film now is looking to take a bath on it with no theaters open.
To be clear, this has nothing to do with the film itself, which both Warner Bros. and Legendary are said to have faith in. Dune is a risky franchise no matter how many big names are attached to it, and the studios can’t afford to lose a ton of money on a property they are hoping will launch a cinematic universe. They have big plans for the property, and that means they need big audiences to turn up for its first film.
This leaves November and December woefully empty for studios. While Warner Bros. has not announced another delay for Wonder Woman 1984, it could definitely be coming. Disney, meanwhile, is staying put with its November release of Soul and its December release of Free Guy, but if no theaters are open, we may see both those films delay or move to streaming as Mulan did.
Warner Bros. didn’t stop with Dune. The studio has moved around a host of other movies that had already been delayed to 2021. The biggest move is The Batman leaping from Oct. 1, 2021 to March 4, 2022. Meanwhile, The Matrix 4 is shifting forward from April 1, 2022 and is now debuting on Dec. 22, 2021. The Flash moved from June 3, 2022 to Nov. 4, 2022, and Shazam 2 has shifted from Nov. 4, 2022 to June 2, 2023. Black Adam and the adaptation of Minecraft are now gone from the release schedule, though both are still being made. Warner Bros. says that all these delays are caused by production issues relating to COVID-19.
In other delay news, F9 (Fast and Furious 9), which had already delayed a year into 2021, pushed its release date back again from April 2021 to May 28, 2021.