In a blow to movie theaters and an already-thin release calendar for 2020, Walt Disney Inc DIS has postponed Ryan Reynolds action-comedy "Free Guy" and "Death on the Nile," the sequel to Kenneth Branagh's "The Murder on the Orient Express," Variety reports.
What Happened: Disney has pulled both big-ticket releases from this year's calendar but has not specified the new release dates yet.
"Free Guy" was scheduled for release on Dec. 11, while "Death on the Nile" was due to debut on Dec. 18.
It comes as a punch in the gut for the already struggling movie theaters, some of which are closed due to pandemic-enforced lockdowns.
Comscore estimates that approximately 50% of the U.S. theaters remain open with major movie markets like Los Angeles and New York City closed.
Thus far, the only blockbuster release for 2020 is "Wonder Woman 1984" from AT&T Inc T-owned Warner Bros. studios — a sequel to the 2017 film "Wonder Woman," starring Gal Gadot.
Smaller films by Comcast Corporation CMCSA-owned Universal Studios — "Freaky" and "The Croods: A New Age" — are scheduled for Nov. 13 and Nov. 25, respectively, Variety noted.
Why It Matters: Movie theatres have largely remained closed or empty since the pandemic. In October, the world's biggest chain of theaters, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc AMC, had considered bankruptcy to get a respite from piling debt from months of closure.
In its latest earnings report, AMC said that 539 of 600 domestic locations and approximately 261 out of 358 international locations had reopened.
AMC theaters in European locations like Italy, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom will remain closed due to a resurgence in COVID-19 infections.
Cineworld Group PLC CNWGY-owned Regal Entertainment had suspended its U.S. operations in October.
Related movie theater stocks: Cinemark Holdings, Inc. CNK, Marcus Corp MCS, IMAX Corp IMAX, and Reading International, Inc. RDI.
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