“Top Gun: Maverick” will now open in theaters on May 27, 2022, instead of Nov. 19, 2021, while another Cruise-led adventure, “Mission: Impossible 7,” will debut on Sept. 30, 2022, instead of May 27, 2022.
Also fleeing 2021, “Jackass Forever,” the next entry in the shock comedy franchise starring Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O, has been pushed back from Oct. 22, 2021, to Feb. 4, 2022.
“Top Gun: Maverick,” a sequel to the 1986 action adventure, and “Mission: Impossible 7,” the globe-trotting spy series, have each been delayed several times over the last year and a half because movie theater attendance levels have yet to return to normal.
The latest release date shuffle, marking the first domino to fall in late 2021, comes as the country’s COVID-19 cases remain stubbornly persistent. That has resulted in a significant decline in consumer confidence in returning to the movies. According to research conducted by NRG, 67% of moviegoers say they are “very or somewhat comfortable” visiting their local theater, which is down 11 points from July. Among family audiences, 58% of parents say they are “very or somewhat comfortable” taking their kids to the movies, which is down five points from last week and marks the lowest point since late April. Internationally, the box office has been struggling to draw crowds as well, making it difficult for big-budget films, such as “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Mission: Impossible 7,” to turn a profit theatrically.
Minutes after Paramount took “Top Gun: Maverick” off its Nov. 19 date, Sony pushed “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” from its original slot on Nov. 11 to that date. Even with the latest “Ghostbusters” installment taking its place on movie theater marquees, the loss of “Top Gun: Maverick” is a huge blow to cinema operators, many of whom were relying on Cruise’s return to the cockpit to incentivize audiences around the holidays.
There are still several promising titles on the calendar through the end of the year, assuming rival studios keep their biggest movies on the schedule. In the fall, Universal’s musical adaptation of “Dear Evan Hansen” is opening on Sept. 24, MGM’s James Bond sequel “No Time to Die” is launching on Oct. 8 and Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is bowing on Oct. 15. And later in 2021, Disney and Marvel’s “Eternals” is dated for Nov. 5, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “West Side Story” is scheduled for Dec. 10 and Warner Bros.’ “The Matrix 4” is slated for Dec. 22.