The Hollywood blockbuster catches a case of COVID-19

by Jade Rhode

Globally, many industries have been affected by COVID-19 with the entertainment industry - in particular Hollywood - being no exception. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the novel coronavirus – which originated in Wuhan, China in 2019 – is an infectious disease spread primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The disease has since spread across the globe, forcing WHO to announce it as being a global pandemic. There are currently over 3.9 million confirmed global cases with respected actors such as Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and Idris Elba among the many who have tested positive for the disease.

Actors are not the only Hollywood players affected by the pandemic. Due to the nature of how COVID-19 spreads and the close proximity of film sets, physical and health security became a major concern for other cast members, crew and production team members.

This concern led to the shutting down or complete cancellation of many film sets and production. This, in turn, has given rise to the concern of financial security with the loss of income and potentially jobs of many film production workers.

We should not only think about the directors, producers, cast and assistants but take into account those with smaller and lesser-known roles such as the best boy, propmaker, set dresser and music editor, to name but a few, during this time.

As part of containing the infectious disease, people all around the world were asked to practice social distancing and avoid mass gatherings. In doing so, it has kept the movie-going public at home, leading to the temporary closure of movie theatres and delaying the premieres of upcoming 2020 blockbusters.

Due to delays and cancellations of films, the global box office dropped not just millions but billions of dollars, and the stock of film exhibitors dropped, too. It also led to the delay of many promotional activities, interviews and advertising; another major money-maker for studios.

While social distancing, all we can do is keep safe and keep up to date with the latest developments in our favourite films. Below are a few of the highly-anticipated and delayed movies that have us excited and ready to go back to the cinema:

1. No Time to Die

Picture credit:

Caption: No Time to Die will be the fifth (and allegedly last) James Bond movie that Daniel Craig stars in.

The latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, sees Daniel Craig's 007 back on our screens since 2015 Spectre. On this outing, the British spy is tasked to rescue a kidnapped scientist and, in the process, faces off against a mysterious villain, played by Bohemian Rhapsody star Rami Malek. We would have seen No Time to Die on the big screens in April 2020, but we will now have to wait until November 2020 as it is set to premiere in the UK on 12 November 2020 and on 25 November 2020 in the US.

2. Wonder Woman 1984

Picture credit: The Times of Israel.

Caption: Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot is no stranger to combat. The former Israel Defense Forces member can be considered as a “wonder woman” in her own right.

Wonder Woman 1984 serves as the eagerly anticipated sequel to the hit 2017 film Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot reprises her role as the female DC Comics protagonist Diana Prince. In the sequel, taking place in Washington D. C. in 1984 - hence the title - we will see the heroine take on the villainess, Cheetah; who is surprisingly played by SNL comedienne Kristin Wiig. This film has suffered several setbacks with original release dates including December 2019 and June 2020 but with COVID-19 proving to be the stronger adversary, we will only be able to see Diana in battle from 14 August 2020.

3. Black Widow

Picture credit: MCU Cosmic.

Caption: This action-packed film stars Scarlett Johansson, Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh.

Now we move from a DC Comics heroine to a Marvel Comics heroine. The film Black Widow is set to reveal the backstory of the most secretive Avenger, Black Widow aka Natasha Romanova, played by Scarlett Johansson. The film sees Romanova confront a dangerous conspiracy which has ties to her past. As a former KGB operative, the Black Widow deals with her past as well as the relationships that were broken before she became an Avenger. This film serving as Johansson's swan song in the MCU was originally going to be released on 1 May. Now Marvel fans have extra time to prepare as it will be released on 6 November 2020.

4. Minions: The Rise of Gru

Picture credit: Universal Pictures.

Caption: The movie sees the return of Julie Andrews as Gru’s mother and Russell Brand as Dr. Nefario.

Kids and kids at heart will be disappointed to hear that Minions: The Rise of Gru has been postponed. The animated family film, which is a sequel to 2015's Minions and a spinoff to the main Despicable Me film series, takes place in the 1970s, where a 12-year-old Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) strives to become the world’s greatest supervillain with help from main minions Kevin, Stuart and Bob. The film, which was set to release on 3 July 2020, will now be released on 2 July 2021.

5. Mulan

Picture credit: Vox.

Caption: The live-action version of Mulan will not include the beloved talking dragon sidekick Mushu, who was originally voiced by Eddie Murphy.

2020 seems to be the year of bold female protagonists! Disney finally provides us with the live-action reboot of 1998's Mulan, a young fearless Chinese woman (Yifei Liu) who disguises herself as a male warrior to save her father from serving in the Imperial Army. We can also look forward to seeing actors Tzi Ma (Rush Hour) as Zhou and Jet Li (Cradle 2 the Grave) as the Emperor. The movie was to be released in March 2020 but will now premiere on 24 July 2020.

6. F9 (Fast & Furious 9)

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Caption: The star-studded line up of this century's longest and most successful franchise.

The ninth film in the Fast and the Furious franchise was one of the most highly anticipated releases of 2020. However, Universal Pictures decided to move the release date from 22 May 2020 to 2 April 2021. F9 stars regulars such as Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson. We also see returning actors including Charlize Theron and Dame Helen Mirren as well as the introduction of WWE star John Cena, who plays Vin Diesel’s unknown brother and antagonist Jakob – a skilled assassin and the most high-performance driver the team has ever encountered.

It is not only big-budget blockbusters that have been delayed/postponed or cancelled but also smaller studio and independent productions. These films include Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, Deerskin, The Lovebirds, The Artist’s Wife, Blue Story, Malignant, First Cow, Scoob, The Truth and The Secret Garden. It's clear that it will take quite some time for all involved in Hollywood to recover not only physically but financially and creatively from this pandemic.

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