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Sony Won’t Release Big Budget Movies Until Theaters Return To Normal

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Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman Tony Vinciquerra says that the studio won't risk releasing any $200 million movies during the pandemic, saying they're learning as they go. The coronavirus pandemic has caused ripples throughout the world over the past several months, locking people in their homes and shutting down whole industries worldwide. And Hollywood has been among the hardest hit. Productions shut down in mid-March and have only just started up again, while every big blockbuster scheduled for release in summer 2020 was either delayed or moved to streaming as all cinemas closed their doors.

Now that certain chains have started opening up, though not in key markets like Los Angeles or New York, studios have started releasing movies again, with the likes of New Mutants and Tenet taking a new staggered approach to release. Tenet, Christopher Nolan's latest time-bending blockbuster, released internationally in the last week of August and dropped in the USA this past weekend. It will continue to open in more screens as they become available, a strategy that Warner Bros. hopes will mitigate against its low early numbers. The $200 million film made just $10 million in its opening weekend, but studio executives are playing the long game, hoping to give it an extended run in theaters in order to make its money back.

Now, Sony Pictures has weighed in on the issue, with their chairman, Vinciquerra, telling the Bank of America 2020 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference (via The Wrap) that they won't risk opening any big budget movies while cinemas are still affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In a not-so-subtle dig at WB's decision to release Tenet, Vinciquerra says that it would be a "mistake" to release an expensive movie until theaters are at maximum capacity. His full comments can be read below.

FireShot Capture 12423 - Sony Won’t Release Big Budget Movies_ - https___screenrant.com_sony-mov.jpg

FireShot Capture 12426 - Sony Won’t Release Big Budget Movies_ - https___screenrant.com_sony-mov.jpg

Vinciquerra goes on to say that not only will the pandemic affect the way films are marketed and distributed, but that the way films are going to be made in future has changed for good. Citing the new safety protocols that are in place on sets, the Sony Pictures Chairman says that productions will be "more expensive" due to increased testing, and that they'll also be more "efficient" as the need to less people on set will become paramount. So, it's highly important for these movies to be sizable hits and recoup the studio's investment, meaning holding off until a later time is a smarter strategy.

What the news means for Sony's big upcoming blockbusters, like the untitled third Tom Holland Spider-Man movie, Ghostbusters: Afterlife or Morbius, is unclear. The films were all delayed by coronavirus, and if things aren't completely back to normal by next summer, Sony may end up having to come up with an alternate release strategy. Whether that means releasing them on VOD for a premium amount, or taking the risk of releasing them to half-empty theaters, something will have to be decided. What is clear at this point, though, is that Hollywood is clearly going to change forever as a result of this pandemic.

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