Russell Crowe’s new movie will serve as a test for the U.S. cinema industry when it becomes the first film officially released to theatres in July (2020), once the coronavirus shut down ends.
Solstice Studios bosses have bumped up the release of thriller Unhinged to July 1, 2020, so they can be in theatres as soon as they re-open, in time for 4th of July weekend.
“When we green lit this film, I probably figured that July 4th weekend and Christmas would be the two least likely slots,” Solstice chairman/CEO Mark Gill tells Deadline. “We were sitting on September 4 and then COVID-19 happened, and A Quiet Place 2 moved out of its original slot and landed on our date. When you are in a speedboat and a giant ship is coming at you, you better move out of the way.
“We looked at the rest of the year, fall/winter and spring 2021. The release schedule was already crowded, and when you add all the films that have been delayed, it made it think that maybe we go sooner (sic).”
Gill has the backing of NATO experts: “The first call was to John Fithian at NATO, whose organization is in touch with state public services departments, and if they had said, ‘You can’t open theatres’, we would have said forget it. We don’t want to do anything that isn’t safe and expert-guided.”
Meanwhile, Solstice researchers have carried out a private poll of 1,000 movie fans and were encouraged by how many were planning to return to theatres as soon as they re-opened in America.
“We thought maybe 40 per cent would say they were eager to return to the theatres, but we were surprised to see the number at 80 per cent,” Gill adds. “We became convinced that enough theatres will have been open for a couple of weeks, playing repertory and not new films… and from a business perspective, we see an opportunity to have a week or two of clear path before theatres get (blockbusters) Mulan and Tenet.”