Who’s Zoomin’ who? MGM, that’s who. Like many of their competitors, the Lion has been forced to move numerous releases from their original release dates as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect theatrical business in the United States and Canada. Earlier this month, the studio, through their United Artists partnership, pushed the James Bond flick “No Time To Die” from November to April 2021. Now, a potential Oscar player, the Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect,” is moving from January 15 to August 13.
The studio also took “Tomb Raider 2,” starring Alicia Vikander, off its March 19th release date. It’s currently undated.
Directed by Liesl Tommy, “Respect” stars Academy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson as Franklin, a casting choice made by the iconic Queen of Soul herself before she passed away in 2018. At one point, the film was expected to open in limited release for Christmas, before expanding nationwide in January. Earlier this summer, after the Academy pushed the Oscar-qualifying window, MGM opted for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend wide release instead. Currently, “The 355,” “Mortal Kombat” and “Peter Pan 2: The Runaway” are still slated to open that weekend. With movie theaters still not open in Los Angeles or New York City, the two biggest movie-going markets in the country, studios have been hedging their bets on whether it’s worth it to release in the current environment.
With COVID rates skyrocketing again in much of the country and European nations imposing new curfews, studios are clearly reconsidering whether releasing films over the next two months is a profitable proposition. Other anticipated movies that could push out of December and January include “Free Guy,” “Death on the Nile,” “Wonder Woman 1984,” and “News of the World.”
“Respect” was also being positioned as a potential awards season player with Hudson being touted for a Best Actress nomination. Her withdrawal from 2021 consideration opens up a slightly easier road for Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”), Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”), Michelle Pfeiffer (“French Exit”), Kate Winslet (“Ammonite”), Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”), Rachel Brosnahan (“I’m Your Woman”), and Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”).
“Respect” will now try to find some on August 13, 2021.