Disappointing, but not surprising.
This is the third delay for the DC Extended Universe sequel; originally slated for early June, it was rescheduled to mid-August in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, and then again to October 2 as the effects of the pandemic lingered.
The latest shift was all but inevitable given the complete lack of marketing for the October 2 date. The biggest tell came on Thursday September 10 when Warners completely vacated the most obvious marketing platform: NBC’s NFL opener that featured the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
One day later, the studio made the delay official.
Along with Tenet‘s so-so debut, which was largely seen by industry pundits as inclusive when it comes to gauging where the market is at right now, the other mitigating factors (and likely the primary ones) are New York and L.A. There’s still no set date on when theaters in the nation’s two biggest markets will reopen.
Theaters in other major metropolitan areas like Seattle and San Francisco remained closed as well, and the recent tragic sweep of forest fires along the West Coast coupled with rolling energy blackouts in California certainly aren’t helping matters.
With the move of Wonder Woman 1984, that means the next big tentpoles scheduled for theatrical release won’t open until November when Marvel’s Black Widow, Sony’s No Time To Die, and Pixar’s Soul are all scheduled to debut over the course of the month.
That’s assuming, of course, that those dates hold. They likely will, if NYC and LA can get theaters open by early October. If not, don’t count on it.
Currently slated for December 18, the epic sci-fi adaptation is also being distributed by Warner Bros. It would seem odd for a studio to launch two major tentpoles just one week apart at a time when screen counts and theater capacities will almost certainly still be at reduced numbers.
Given those restrictions — coupled with the unlikelihood that mass audiences would risk two theatrical outings so close together, even during the holidays — Warners would likely be cannibalizing its own profits if it were to stick with a Dune launch on December 18. (Profit cannibalization was likely another reason that WB shifted WW84 from October 2, so that Tenet box office could be maximized.)
It certainly would be an odd turn of events if Dune (a movie still in post-production that just had its first trailer released this week) was seen by the public before Wonder Woman 1984 is (a movie that was complete and ready to go over three months ago).
Notably, the first Dune trailer lacked any release date. With a move now more likely, look to a January or February release in 2021 where it would still be eligible for Academy Awards consideration; the cutoff for that window is February 28.