Due to social distancing and stay-at-home policies, movie theaters have been dark since late March, forcing newly-released movies to be newly-released on streaming services. Unreleased films are in a strange limbo…will the pandemic become manageable later in the year, allowing movie theaters to reopen? Or will studios like Disney have to cut their loses via pay-per-view and DVDs?

Marvel Studios

Disney’s Marvel Studios recently announced a new calendar, pushing back Black Widow from an early May opening (claimed by a Marvel movie since 2007), and claiming dates for upcoming sequels. The earliest Disney release is now June 19, 2020, for Pixar’s Soul.

If you read my previous Disney/Fox calendar, you know that Disney slots movies by type, not by content. Late April/early May is a Marvel tentpole, like Avengers. Thanksgiving Wednesday is always an animated feature, like Frozen 2. Mid-December is now Star Wars/Avatar. Disney is doing the same with Fox movies, leapfrogging with Disney releases.

What’s most interesting is that starting in 2022, Marvel Studios plans four MCU movies for release (February, May, July, October). Since Phase Four was on hold until the end of Avengers: Endgame, Marvel had a production scheduling logjam. That’s why Black Widow (May 2020), The Eternals (November 2020) and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February 2021) were announced first; martial arts require fewer special effects shots, and new franchises can be developed without worrying about continuity and press leaks. There was no July 2021 slot, and the fourth Thor movie was the last titled movie to be slotted, with the rest being untitled placeholders.

How has the calendar changed during these “dark ages”? Box Office Mojo has a list, and a lot of movies have been taken off the calendar completely.  Take a look. Another unknown: how will the current economic shutdown affect film productions? Special effects, pre-visualization, design, and animation can be done remotely or collaboratively online, but actual filming requires large groups of people, something not possible currently.

(All data comes from studio PR and/or BoxOfficeMojo.com . Note that I do not speculate on Untitled movies. Stupidity is contagious, and I will not be a vector.) 

What has changed in the current calendar?

  • New Mutants has been removed from the schedule completely. After the lackluster success of Dark Phoenix, it might be the final movie in that cinematic universe. Or it might be reworked to fit the MCU. It was pitched as a trilogy, but everything depends on the actual success.
  • Black Widow has been moved from May 1, 2020, to November 6, 2020, taking the place of…
  • The Eternals has been moved from November 2020 to February 12, 2021, which takes the place of…
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, now placed in the tentpole date of May 7, 2021. This is the first time a single-character debut has been scheduled for this weekend since Thor in 2011. Black Widow, a known character, was to be showcased this weekend in 2020. In 2021, the original movie was to be…
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which, if the current madness returns to the previous level of “crazy”, should hit theaters November 5, 2021. The late July slot, usually reserved for first-time characters like Ant-Man, is still empty. Disney has scheduled a live-action film that month, but it’s possible Disney might use that slot if the schedule must be pushed back once more. That fall, Marvel had planned to screen…
  • Thor: Love and Thunder. Thor and friends has been pushed to February 18, 2022, which was an untitled slot. After that, everything was unknown, until Marvel announced these new dates, adding…
  • Black Panther 2 on May 6, 2022, and…
  • Captain Marvel 2 on July 8, 2022, and an untitled MCU movie on October 7, 2022, making this the first year of many more with four MCU movies in one year. After this, it’s all placeholders through 2023. After that, the only movies scheduled are Star Wars and Avatar, which alternate the mid-December dates through to 2027 (Avatar 5).

Also of note:

  • Nimona, based on the award-winning graphic novel by Noelle Stevenson, is being released via Blue Sky Studios, the animation subsidiary of Fox. Originally scheduled for February 2020, it was pushed back by Disney to March 2021, and is now scheduled for January 14, 2022. That’s usually a graveyard for troubled films, but that weekend is the MLK weekend, an oasis for films between Oscar Christmas and Valentines Day. It will most likely compete with Oscar-worthy films going into wide release that weekend.

Here’s my updated Disney calendar for the remainder of 2020.

Old Date New Date Title Studio
2/14/2020 9/18/2020 The King’s Man Fox
3/27/2020 7/24/2020 Mulan Disney
4/3/2020 ??? The New Mutants Fox
5/1/2020 11/6/2020 Black Widow Marvel
5/29/2020 Disney+ Artemis Fowl Disney
6/19/2020 3/6/2020 Onward (was UNTITLED PIXAR ANIMATION) Pixar
6/19/2020 Soul Pixar
7/3/2020 12/11/2020 Free Guy Fox
7/17/2020 4/9/2021 Bob’s Burgers Fox
7/24/2020 7/30/2021 Jungle Cruise Disney
7/24/2020 10/16/2020 The French Dispatch Fox
8/7/2020 The Empty Man Fox
8/14/2020 unchanged The One and Only Ivan Disney
9/24/2020 The Beatles: Get Back Disney
10/9/2020 unchanged Death on the Nile Fox
10/23/2020 Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Fox
11/6/2020 2/12/2021 The Eternals (was UNTITLED MARVEL) Marvel
11/6/2020 2/26/2021 Ron’s Gone Wrong Fox/Locksmith
11/13/2020 Deep Water Fox
12/18/2020 unchanged West Side Story Fox
12/23/2020 5/28/2021 Cruella Disney
11/25/2020 Raya and the Last Dragon Disney
12/25/2020 The Last Duel Fox