Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” a sequel to Tom Cruise’s 1986 classic, is the latest summer movie to vacate its release date as theaters remain closed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The anticipated follow-up was scheduled to debut June 24 and will now release Dec. 23, 2020.
As part of the release shake-up, Paramount has also moved “A Quiet Place Part II” — which the studio postponed last month — to Sept. 4, 2020. “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run,” an animated adventure based on the absorbent underwater fry cook, was originally slated to hit theaters on May 22 and will now bow July 31, 2020. Meanwhile sci-fi fantasy film “The Tomorrow War,” previously scheduled for Dec. 25, 2020, is now undated.
Those films join a growing list of tentpoles that were pulled from release because of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent closure of multiplexes. Sony recently delayed most of its summer slate, including “Morbius” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” In recent weeks, Disney postponed “Black Widow” and “Mulan,” while Warner Bros. reshuffled “Wonder Woman 1984” and “In the Heights” and Universal halted “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and “Fast & Furious” entry “F9.”
By now, it’s clear that studios don’t expect theaters will reopen by mid-summer. Even if cinemas are able to turn lights back on by July, when “SpongeBob” is now set to release, exhibitors are wary about how eager audiences will be to return to normal activities, such as going to the movies, after emerging from the global health crisis.
“Top Gun: Maverick” cost over $150 million to make, so Paramount is counting on massive ticket sales in order to turn a profit. The delay gives Paramount more time to roll out a massive global marketing campaign. That could have been more difficult if “Top Gun: Maverick” had tried to maintain its summer release date. Cruise is gearing up to star in the seventh “Mission: Impossible” movie — production in Europe was delayed when the coronavirus hit Italy. This will allow him to shoot that sequel and participate in the “Top Gun: Maverick” campaign.
Cruise, over 30 years after the first film, reprises his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in “Top Gun: Maverick.” In the sequel, Cruise returns to flight school to train Top Gun graduates for a specialized mission. Val Kilmer will reprise his role as Maverick’s rival Iceman, while Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm and Glen Powell joined the cast.
“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” sees best friends SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star venture out of Bikini Bottom and head to the Lost City of Atlantic City on a rescue mission to save SpongeBob’s trusty snail Gary. It’s the third theatrical “SpongeBob” film after 2004’s “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” and 2015’s “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.” Both were commercially successful, earning over $450 million globally combined.