Theaters to Reopen for Small-Budget Movies In Spite of Blockbuster Delays

Photo by Krists Luhaers via Unsplash

Theaters to Reopen for Small-Budget Movies In Spite of Blockbuster Delays

By Cooper Dowd, Staff Writer

After months of zero theatrical releases since theaters closed in spring, UNHINGED, starring Russell Crowe, will be the first to hit U.S. cinemas on August 21.  

The $33 million production from Solstice Studios is taking a risk in being the first. According to the studio, the coronavirus pushed back so many blockbuster movies that it made the release necessary for a smaller film like UNHINGED. 

“The schedule is always full, but it only became more full,” the company’s CEO, Mark Gill, said. “I didn’t have much choice. I’m not sticking around to get run over by A QUIET PLACE 2. There are all these supertankers out there, and my film is a tiny boat. If I don’t move, I’m going to get crushed.”

Although there are plenty of risks for the smaller-budgeted movies as cinemas open, their decision to release now could mark the starting point for audiences to feel comfortable going back to theaters.  

“They’re paving the way for all the other movies,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice Pro, said. “The crucial thing will be to let it play for a while. Its success can’t be determined by its opening weekend.”

As theaters set safety precautions in place, more people may come following the opening weekend. The early release will ensure a week or two where small films are not battling with high-budget movies.  

Although streaming services’ earnings have skyrocketed during the pandemic, Gill said that their studio returning to theaters could encourage others to join them, which would boost a struggling economy.  

“We established this company to be a theatrical studio,” Gill said. “Doing our first movie on a streaming service wouldn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

“COVID has cost us six to nine months in our business plan,” Gill continued. “It might end up costing us a year. But at least the creative community has re-engaged recently, and we’re starting to pitch projects to people. For a while there, it was not even worth it to make an offer. Everyone was ducking for cover.”

With larger markets such as Los Angeles and New York still closed, and with lower occupancy due to mandated social distancing in open auditoriums, films could still lose millions of dollars in the reopening process. 

Yet Solstice Studios’ decision could serve as a test to see how desperate audiences are to go back to the movies.  

“There’s not a lot of competition,” Gill said. “It won’t be ‘Hey, do you want to go to the movies this weekend?’ It will be ‘Do you want to go to the movie?’”

MOVIEGUIDE® has not seen or reviewed UNHINGED and cannot offer recommendations at this time. Check back soon for more info.