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Disney and Paramount Push Back Release Dates for Upcoming Films

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  • Disney has made major changes to its film release schedule, leaving “Mulan,” which was supposed to hit theaters in a month, with an unknown date. Their changes also involve pushing upcoming “Avatar” and “Star Wars” sequels back a year.
  • Likewise, Paramount also shook up their calendar. “A Quiet Place II” and “Top Gun: Maverick,” which were supposed to come out in September and December respectively, are now shelved until 2021.
  • This comes as AMC delayed its opening for a third time, now opting to let audiences back in mid-late August instead of in July. With this slew of movies now being further delayed, it is unclear if AMC will have to postpone its plans yet again.

Disney’s Delays

If the summer box office wasn’t already dead on arrival, it certainly is now. Both Disney and Paramount have shuffled their release schedules, tossing some pictures miles down the road, and blockbusters like “Mulan” into the complete unknown. 

The postponement of “Mulan” is the biggest blow to movie theaters right now. Previously slated to hit screens on August 21, it now has no release date, as Disney does not want to keep assigning dates to films it knows may likely need to be pushed again. This comes just a few days after Warner Brothers also decided to delay “Tenet” indefinitely. The two films would have been the first big blockbusters for audiences to see once theaters opened back up after closing because of the pandemic. 

“Over the last few months, it’s become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis, and today that means pausing our release plans for ‘Mulan’ as we assess how we can most effectively bring this film to audiences around the world,” a Disney spokesperson told Deadline

Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” which was going to be a fall release, has also been pushed back to an unknown date. Disney has also opted to further delay major franchises, including its upcoming “Avatar” and “Star Wars” movies each by a year. Now, new “Avatar” sequels will be released in December every other year between 2022 and 2028. The new “Star Wars” films will hit screens in those off-years. 

Other delayed Disney projects include “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” which will now come out on August 28; “Death on the Nile,” which will hit theaters on October 23; “Black Widow,” which releases on November 6, “Antlers,” which will debut on February 19, 2021; “The Last Duel,” which will arrive October 15, 2021; and an untitled live action movie will be coming out on December 16, 2021. 

Paramount Pushes Big Projects

Disney is not the only studio making major changes to their release schedule. Paramount also shook up their calendar, moving “A Quiet Place II” from this September to April 23, 2021. “Top Gun: Maverick” is also getting bumped to next year, with a release date set for July 2, 2021 as opposed to this Christmas. 

Paramount additionally announced that a new “Jackass” movie is getting pushed to September 2021 while “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is moving to April 2022. “The Tiger’s Apprentice” is getting delayed a full year, going from February 11, 2022 to February 10, 2023.

“We truly believe that there is no movie-viewing experience like the one enjoyed in theatres,” Paramount’s president of domestic distribution Chris Aronson, and president of international theatrical distribution Mark Viane told Variety. “We are committed to the theatrical experience and our exhibition partners, and want to stress that we are confident that, when the time comes, audiences everywhere will once again enjoy the singular joy of seeing Paramount films on the big screen.”

Sony joined Disney and Paramount in these schedule shifts by nudging the latest Tom Holland-led “Spider-Man” movie by one month to December 2021.

AMC Postpones Reopening

These hold ups come as movie theaters are suffering from mass pandemic closures. Major chains have announced their plans to reopen, but have been forced to change them. On Thursday, AMC, the largest chain in the United States, delayed its opening for a third time. 

AMC now plans to open its doors in “mid to late August” instead of in July. When they made this announcement, “Mulan” was expected to be released in August. Now that its release is unclear, AMC may be forced to push their reopening once more. Right now, there would be little new content for theatergoers to see in August. 

New York and Los Angeles, the biggest movie markets in the country, also have yet to announce their intent to reopen theaters. While New York is walking through its phases of reopening, Los Angeles is facing the potential of a second lockdown. This could further jeopardize the movie theater industry. 

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Variety) (Wall Street Journal)

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Joe Rogan Says Grimes Did Not Give Dave Chappelle COVID-19

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  • Comedian Dave Chappelle is under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. He is asymptomatic and his remaining shows in Austin, Texas have been canceled.
  • The news comes just days after Chappelle was photographed with Joe Rogan, Elon Musk, Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.
  • “Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” Rogan wrote on Instagram Friday. “Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”

Chappelle Tests Positive

Comedian Dave Chappelle has tested positive for coronavirus and is currently under quarantine, according to one of his representatives.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, that rep also confirmed that he is currently asymptomatic and has canceled all of his remaining shows at Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin, Texas.

“Chappelle has safely conducted socially-distanced shows in Ohio since June 2020 and he moved those shows to Austin during the winter,” the statement read.

“Chappelle implemented COVID-19 protocols which included rapid testing for the audience and daily testing for himself and his team. His diligent testing enabled him to immediately respond by quarantining, thus mitigating the spread of the virus,” it continued.

Joe Rogan Speaks Out After He Was Photographed With Chappelle

Two of the remaining Austin shows were supposed to include fellow comedian Joe Rogan. Rogan took to Instagram Friday morning to announce that they will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

Still, many fans had questions about Rogan’s current state of health. The news of Chappelle’s positive test comes just days after he was photographed maskless with Rogan, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, musician Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.

Since Grimes, who is also in a relationship with Musk, recently had COVID, many were concerned that she may have exposed the group. Others wondered if Chappelle may have spread it.

Rogan eventually updates his Instagram caption to dismiss the ideas.

“Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” he wrote.“Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (CNN) (AP News)

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Netflix Passes 200M Subscribers as Other Streamers Struggle With Retention

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  • In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said it has hit over 200 million subscribers following a successful year of growth.
  • The pandemic gave Netflix a significant subscriber boost in March and April. The company continued to perform well even in its final quarter, gaining 8.5 million subscribers when it was only projected to add 6 million.
  • The data also highlights how relatively unaffected Netflix has been by new streaming services entering the market. While companies like Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock continue to grow, they also struggle to retain the subscribers that sign up.

Netflix Passes 200 Million Subscribers

Netflix has topped 200 million subscribers following a year of strong growth in 2020.

In its Tuesday letter to shareholders, Netflix announced that it added 8.5 million subscribers in its fourth quarter. This exceeds projections, which estimated the streaming giant would only add around 6 million. In total, Netflix gained 37 million new memberships throughout 2020, bringing the company to 203.6 million subscribers.

Pandemic lockdowns gave Netflix a substantial boost in March in April. In the company’s first two quarters, it added a combined 25.7 million subscribers. According to data from the letter, Netflix had added over 10 million more subscribers by May of 2020 than it had by May of 2019.

When it comes to the success of their fourth quarter, Netflix pointed to shows like “Bridgerton” and “The Crown.” The fourth season of “The Crown” hit the platform in November, prompting many to return to older seasons of the show. Netflix claims the series has been viewed by 100 million households since it first aired in 2016.

Success Amid Growth of Competition

The year 2020 could have been a difficult one for Netflix as new streaming services entered the market. Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock and more have all made waves with their original programming or by taking some of their brand’s content from Netflix to host on their own site. User-based content on YouTube and TikTok also became increasingly popular throughout the pandemic, further posing as a threat to Netflix. 

Still, it reached a massive milestone. 

“Our strategy is simple: if we can continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members, we can be their first choice for streaming entertainment,” Netflix said in the letter. “This past year is a testament to this approach.”

Netflix potentially sees Disney+ as the biggest competitor among new platforms. In its letter, the company noted that the streamer added 87 million subscribers in its first year. In a Q&A, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings seemed enthusiastic about this competition.

“It’s super impressive what Disney’s done,” he said. “It’s going to be great for the world that Disney and Netflix are competing show-by-show, movie-by-movie. We’re very fired up about catching them in family animation, maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see. It’s a long way to go just to catch them, and maintaining our lead in general entertainment that’s so stimulating like ‘Bridgerton,’ which I don’t think you’re going to see on Disney anytime soon.”

Streamers Struggle with Retaining Subscribers

Even as new streamers have had impressive years, there is one hurdle that many are still struggling to jump over: retaining the subscribers who sign up. The Los Angeles Times named Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Apple TV+ in particular, writing that people create accounts with these services, watch the TV shows or movies they are interested in, and cancel once they are done.

An October survey from Deloitte said that 46% of respondents canceled at least one streaming service in the last 6 months, which is up 20% from January of last year. Most who had canceled said they did so because they had finished watching whatever programming it was that brought them to that service. 

Places like Disney+ and HBO Max are really vulnerable to this because they have banked on drawing people in with exclusive marquis titles like “Hamilton” or “Wonder Woman 1984.” However, since they are newer, they are still building their original programming catalog, meaning that people can quickly burn through highlight titles. 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Wall Street Journal) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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Paramount+ To Launch March 4

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  • ViacomCBS is launching Paramount+ in the United States and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out to other markets internationally later this year. 
  • The streaming service will be a relaunch and expansion of CBS All Access. It will include content from Nickelodeon, MTV, and more on top of the CBS-focused selection. 

Paramount+ Gets Launch Date

ViacomCBS will be launching its streaming service Paramount+ in the U.S. and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out in more countries throughout the year. 

It will be an expansion and rebrand of CBS All Access, the service the company currently offers that is used by nearly 8 million subscribers. Paramount+ will go beyond the CBS-centric content promoted there, including works from brands like Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, and the Smithsonian Channel.

More details about their streaming strategy will be released during an investor event on February 24. Right now, ViacomCBS is boasting that the service will have over 30,000 episodes and movies in their catalog, which will also include live sports and breaking news. 

“The Paramount brand is known and loved all around the world, and is synonymous with great entertainment. It’s always brought people together, which makes it a perfect fit for a streaming service that’s uniquely positioned to do the same,” Josh Line the chief brand officer of ViacomCBS said during a brand announcement in September. “The Paramount+ streaming service will elevate ViacomCBS’ iconic family of brands.”

State of the Streaming Wars

Paramount+ has already announced a slew of original projects including a revival of “iCarly” and a series about the making of “The Godfather” titled “The Offer.”

The service is entering an already crowded battlefield as the streaming wars wages on. It will have plenty of uphill battles to fight since brand recognition for Paramount is not nearly as strong as it is for studios like Disney or NBCUniversal. It will also have to compete with Netflix, which leads the pack in subscribers and unveils new content regularly; HBO Max, which will be home to Warner Media’s new theatrical releases; and Hulu, which hosts original content as well as shows currently airing on cable and network television. 

ViacomCBS has not released information on pricing, but that will likely come during or before the February investor event.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Deadline) (CNBC)

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