After a full year with little but theatrical release delays, the exhibition industry finally sees a major release date move four months up, as Paramount’s science fiction horror sequel A Quiet Place Part II abandons its announced September 17 release for a May 28 debut.
Director and screenwriter John Krasinski announced the change via Twitter at 9:42 P.M. Eastern time on Thursday night, followed by Paramount officially confirming via an email to industry outlets at 11:00 P.M.
A Quiet Place Part II was intended as Hollywood’s very next tentpole theatrical release when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted everyone’s plans. Originally intended for March 20, 2020, the film advertised during the Super Bowl a month prior and had already held its red carpet premiere. When the pandemic hit the U.S. in mid-March, Paramount re-labelled the release as ‘unset’ on March 12, a mere eight days prior to its planned opening.
From there, its intended March 20, 2020 release was delayed to September 4, 2020, then delayed again to April 23, 2021, then delayed yet again to September 17, 2021. By now setting it four four months earlier on Memorial Day weekend, this marks the first time post-pandemic that a theatrically exclusive major studio tentpole has moved a planned release up by this many months rather than back.
(Warner Bros. moved Godzilla vs. Kong up from May to March, but that will debut simultaneously in theaters and streaming. Monster Hunter and Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway were both theatrical exclusives that moved up, only by weeks rather than months.)
Even just in the past 24 hours, other studios have made the opposite decision as Paramount. On Thursday afternoon, Universal pushed back two of its releases. F9, the next installment in the Fast & Furious action franchise, was pushed back a month from May 28 to June 25. Animated sequel Minions: The Rise of Gru was delayed an entire year from July 2021 to July 2022.
Paramount’s announcement about A Quiet Place Part II comes on the heels of the studio also announcing a limit on their future films’ theatrical exclusivity to 30-45 days, after which titles will be available for streaming on Paramount+. As Boxoffice PRO recently calculated in our analysis of the decision, 2018’s original A Quiet Place would have earned 84 or 94 percent of its domestic total by days 30 or 45, respectively. Paramount+ rebranded this week, after existing since 2014 under the name CBS All-Access.
Among the so-called big five studios — along with Disney, Universal, Warner Bros., and Sony — Paramount stands alone as the only one to have not yet opened a major theatrical release since the pandemic hit. Disney comes out with Raya and the Last Dragon this weekend, Warner Bros. has adopted a simultaneous theatrical and streaming release for its last four films, Universal has released News of the World and The Croods: A New Age, and arguably even Sony’s Monster Hunter fit the bill.
Since the pandemic, Paramount’s biggest theatrical release has been last August’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run with $4.8 million domestically. The film maxed out at only 300 domestic theaters, though — less than one-tenth of what a major title usually commands. A Quiet Place Part II stands to earn more than $4.8 million just on its opening day.
Paramount’s announcement also comes as the tide finally appears to be turning the corner on the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, an immunization from Johnson & Johnson became the third vaccine cleared for U.S. approval, and cases and deaths have both plummeted from their peaks around New Year’s Day thanks to the two existing vaccines. This weekend, New York City will reopen cinemas at 25 percent capacity, capped at 50 people. Also this week, Texas and Mississippi (controversially) abandoned their mask mandates entirely.
Concurrent with its A Quiet Place Part II announcement, Paramount also announced that the science fiction Infinite will be pushed back from May 28 to September 24. Prior to this announcement, the film was scheduled for release less than three months hence, yet had not yet released an official poster or trailer.