With the SAG-AFTRA strike expected to go well into the fall, Hollywood studios are already trembling at the thought of not having the stars of their upcoming movies around to promote them on social media and press junkets. This is because the strike rules of the actors’ guild prohibit its members from doing any promotion for movies made under their contract with the major studios. As a result, Warner Bros. is already having internal conversations about possible delays of some of their fall releases, and now, Disney may be following suit. And in particular, Marvel Studios’ The Marvels.
Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Disney is having early conversations about potentially delaying several films. So, let’s break them down one by one.
DISNEY’S A HAUNTING IN VENICE SEEMS SAFE
The only title that wasn’t mentioned from 20th Century Studios or Disney Studios is Kenneth Branagh’s A Haunting in Venice, the horror-skewed third film starring Branagh as Hercules Poirot. The film is scheduled for a premiere during the Venice Film Festival, as it couldn’t be any other way given the title, and will bow in theaters on Sept. 15.
It seems almost a miracle that Branagh got away with making a third installment based on Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels after Death on the Nile underperformed at the worldwide box office, but the film’s release getting pushed back several times and coming out after the height of the Ómicron variant likely hurt its box office run.
That said, Branagh put the third film together in record time, and it will hit theaters this September. If the rest of the schedule gets cleared up, a murder mystery at the beginning of the fall season could potentially do some serious business.
POOR THINGS JUST MOVED, BUT IT COULD HAPPEN AGAIN
Despite being set to play at the Venice Film Festival, Searchlight Pictures got scared about the prospects of releasing Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest extravaganza without the support of its starry cast. After all, the trailer will turn off enough audiences by itself, so you need all the help you can get from personalities capable of delivering viral videos like Emma Stone or Marvel actors getting asked about World War Hulk like Mark Ruffalo.
The film was pushed from September 8 to December 8 just a few days ago, though it still could benefit from positive feedback from the film festivals. Yorgos Lanthimos is known to always deliver, so let’s hope audiences are there too.
NEXT GOAL WINS COULD BE PUSHED BACK AGAIN
If Death on the Nile was cursed, Next Goal Wins has been sentenced to death by a court of witches. The film has been in limbo for almost three years, was forced to reshoot scenes replacing Armie Hammer with Will Arnett, and it was finally going to see the light of day this year. The film even got a premiere spot at the Toronto International Film Festival.
However, not having Taika Waititi available to promote it, both because he’s a co-writer on the film as well as an actor (also the director and producer, but can you really separate that when doing press junkets? The WGA won’t think so), and neither will be the rest of the cast. A decision has probably not been made yet, and having it scheduled for November probably speaks well for its chances. Despite that Bloomberg mentioned it as a possibility. For now, it will screen at TIFF.
WISH COULD ALSO MOVE FROM ITS THANKSGIVING DATE
This is a big one for Disney. The year the studio is celebrating its 100th anniversary, Disney’s biggest animated film was going to be about the star its classic animated characters have wished upon for so many decades. Bloomberg mentions the animated feature among the possibilities of moving, but more than any other title on this list, Wish seems to be one that was just lumped in with the rest of the fall schedule.
Having big-name Hollywood actors as part of the animated films is obviously a box office draw, otherwise, they would be hiring professional voice actors instead. However, if the marketing was handled correctly, aiming at the family experience we’ve come to expect from Disney Animation around Thanksgiving, it’s possible the studio won’t even need Chris Pine and Ariana DeBose to promote it. Yes, Moana was a hit around that time, thanks in part to Dwayne Johnson, but so was Coco.
MAGAZINE DREAMS IS DEFINITELY NOT COMING OUT THIS YEAR…OR IS IT?
Strike or not, Disney and Searchlight are facing a big dilemma with their upcoming film Magazine Dreams, which stars Jonathan Majors in what was described earlier this year as an awards-worthy performance for the actor. However, Majors is currently in legal trouble, facing charges of assault and harassment, as well as facing public scrutiny after a blockbuster story by Rolling Stone detailed a decade of abuses by the rising star. His trial will begin on August 3.
20th Century Studios acquired his latest film, Magazine Dreams, at the Sundance Film Festival, a few months before Majors was arrested. Needless to say, unless he’s completely exonerated (and even then, it’d be a tricky situation), Majors will not be doing any press for the film this year, SAG-AFTRA strike aside.
As such, Disney could either indefinitely delay the movie, hoping that the answer to the problem will show up by itself at some point, or perhaps even release it in theaters before the strike is over so that they aren’t forced to answer questions about Majors’ lack of presence in the promotional campaign. They would still face backlash at the box office, but the truth is that the situation is probably not as known to the public as Ezra Miller’s, so they could potentially get away with it.
The film is also a much smaller release, and they just need to make up for whatever they spent on the acquisition and whatever they spend on marketing. The drama is currently dated for a Dec. 8 release, the same as Poor Things.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE MARVELS?
This is the big question. Perhaps the most complicated to answer because for Marvel fans, the truth will be devastating. But if we are being honest, and the studio still hasn’t accepted they are the villains in this situation and pledge to work with their business partners by the end of September, Marvel will probably have to delay The Marvels, though that could actually benefit them in the long run.
The Bloomberg story didn’t say Disney whether was considering either option, just that the latest trailer still had its November 10 date splashed all over it. It was brought up under the context of “movies too deep into marketing to be pushed.”
First of all, everything in The Marvels seems pretty generic, outside of the interactions between the leads. And if you’re going to sell the movie based on that, you need to have press junket interviews with the three actresses going viral on TikTok — Barbie just proved that this is where film marketing lives and dies these days.
The SAG-AFTRA strike paused the production on Deadpool 3, which means the Ryan Reynolds-led movie will almost definitely be missing its May 4, 2024, release date. With Thunderbolts not expected to go into production anytime soon either, it’s possible they may face a delay from the December 2024 date they currently hold. So the Deadpool threequel will likely move into the second half of the year, and that’s where The Marvels could come in.
They could either take the prime May spot that Marvel likes so much or be pushed into February, a date they already used with Black Panther and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Even the first Captain Marvel was released around that time, on March 8. This would likely be the best option, as a two-month delay wouldn’t severely affect the already-started marketing campaign.
Marvel Studios could also use some time off. In November they currently have plans to air the last few episodes of Loki season 2, The Marvels, and later in the month, all episodes of Echo. And that’s happening after Secret Invasion ended this week to record-breaking low ratings and some of the worst critical reception of any project to come out of Marvel Studios.
What do you think? Will The Marvels be pushed back or will Disney hold its November 10 date? Which movie do you think will definitely come out during the fall? Should Marvel push the film into 2024 to deal with possible fatigue, which Secret Invasion has arguably suffered from? Let us know your thoughts on our social media, and stay tuned!