England's lockdown could affect Happiest Season and Freaky's cinema releases

Ian Sandwell
·5-min read

From Digital Spy

It's been a challenging time to say the least for the cinema industry worldwide this year and just when it was starting to recover, cinemas have been hit with another blow in England.

On Saturday (October 31), it was announced by prime minister Boris Johnson that England would go into a nationwide lockdown from November 5 for four weeks, which would mean cinemas in England would have to close again.

Cineworld had already closed all of its cinemas, including Picturehouse venues, for the foreseeable future after the delay to No Time to Die, while Vue and Odeon had closed some of its sites during the week in response to the continued delays to major releases.

However, there were enough cinemas open in the UK for a constant stream of new movies, such as The Craft: Legacy, Pixie, Saint Maud, Relic, All My Life and more in recent weeks.

Photo credit: Jackson Finter
Photo credit: Jackson Finter

While the new lockdown only affects England, it will now likely lead to a stalling of new movie releases in cinemas at a time when they had started to pick up back to 'normal' levels.

Cinemas are currently closed in Wales and Northern Ireland due to similar temporary lockdown measures, but are set to reopen by mid-November. Scotland's cinemas are currently open, yet could be affected in certain areas based on a new tier system introduced today.

Even with cinemas open in those parts of the UK though, it's unlikely to be enough to persuade distributors to go forward with the major releases they had planned for November if cinemas are shut in England.

Notable releases in November include Mackenzie Davis and Kristen Stewart's LGBTQ+ festive rom-com Happiest Season (November 27), body-swap horror-comedy Freaky (November 13), awards contenders Supernova (N0vember 20) and Another Round (November 27) and Melissa McCarthy comedy Superintelligence (November 27).

Digital Spy has reached out to the various distributors for clarification of how the England lockdown will affect their upcoming releases.

Photo credit: Hulu
Photo credit: Hulu

Based on the last few months, there are a few options available for those movies and any other planned in November.

The most obvious would be to delay the releases of the movies until December, pushing their releases by a few weeks at most. All being well, December will finally see the releases of Free Guy, Death on the Nile and Wonder Woman 1984, so those movies might not want to compete against blockbusters though.

It feels like Supernova and Another Round could be most susceptible to a delay into 2021, given that they skew towards older audiences and could suffer if released against blockbusters in the lead-up to Christmas.

So if those movies stick to their November releases, we could see a simultaneous cinema and digital release. Lionsgate had already planned a cinema and digital release for A Christmas Gift from Bob on November 6, so other movies might now follow suit.

You could see it fitting the likes of Freaky and Superintelligence as Universal and Warner Bros, the respective distributors of the movies, have used a digital release for other movies this year.

Photo credit: Universal
Photo credit: Universal

Universal was the first major distributor to delve into the Premium Video-on-Demand market in March with Trolls World Tour, while Warner Bros has given digital releases to the likes of SCOOB! and The Witches.

The US releases for the movie do point to the possibility of digital releases in the UK. Freaky is set for a PVOD release in the US on December 4, three weeks after its cinema release, while Superintelligence is a HBO Max release in the US.

It's a best-case scenario where cinemas still get new movies to release in the areas of the UK where they're open, but audiences can also see the movie in areas where cinemas are closed, potentially with a cinema release to follow when they reopen.

For cinemas though, the worst option would be for the November releases to skip cinemas altogether.

In the US, Happiest Season has skipped cinemas for a Hulu release on November 27, but since Hulu isn't available in the UK, the movie would probably have to be a PVOD release if it skips cinemas entirely.

Photo credit: Hulu
Photo credit: Hulu

That would be a major disappointment, so the hope would be that Happiest Season shifts by at least a week to release in December, making it still timely as a festive rom-com.

It could even stick to November 27 and be released in parts of the UK where cinemas are open, before rolling out to England's cinemas when they reopen.

Right now, it's unclear exactly how movies will be released in November in England, but the hope is that the options are there for new movies to still be released, even once this lockdown starts.

The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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