It's not every day that the coronavirus pandemic results in a movie hitting theaters earlier than planned.
But on Tuesday, Solstice Studios made the surprise announcement that the new Russell Crowe thriller Unhinged has shifted its theatrical release date up to July 1 from September, meaning this could end up being the first new film to hit movie theaters since they closed due to the coronavirus crisis, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Previously, it was thought that the Christopher Nolan film Tenet, which is scheduled to be released on July 17, would serve that role, though this is all assuming movie theaters can widely resume operations in the United States by that point. Some states have permitted theaters to reopen already, but major chains like AMC have declined to do so, not that they'd be able to show much new if they did. Hollywood studios have over the past two months either delayed movies scheduled for this time of year or in some cases released them on demand.
But even if theaters can widely reopen by July, which would involve operating at a limited capacity, the question remains, will moviegoers feel safe returning right away? Unhinged, it appears, could provide an early answer to this question.
"We are the canary in the coal mine, no doubt about it," Solstice president-CEO Mark Gill told the Reporter.
Then again, Gill noted to Deadline that given that Unhinged has a "relatively modest budget" of $33 million, it doesn't need to gross as much as a major blockbuster like Tenet does to be a success. He conceded to Variety that theaters might not actually be open in some major markets like New York City by July 1 but said that "less populated cities and suburbs will be open and we expect there to be a lot of pent-up demand."
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