If movie chains are to open back up in July (which, at the moment, may be optimistic), then the first wide release film available for U.S. audiences is set to be the Russell Crowe thriller Unhinged. This is the plan for the moment.
The film is currently scheduled for a July 1 release. That would give it a 16-day start on Christopher Nolan's Tenet, which is still slated for July 17.
In addition to that ambition, Unhinged will be the first release from new independent movie company, Solstice Studios. The July 1 target date is certainly a daring/risky goal for Solstice to hit, given that the coronavirus has shut down a large majority of theaters nationwide (especially those in big markets). But some states, including Texas, are starting to pull back restrictions that allow places like theaters to operate with limited capacity that will spread audiences out so no one's sitting right next to one another.
Mark Gill, who's the president and CEO of Solstice, said he came around to the idea after being convinced that theaters are putting in place procedures that will get the industry going again, including pushing apart showtimes and beefing up cleanings.
Gill did acknowledge that some key markets may not be open when the film releases. Note that hours after this story was first reported by Deadline, Los Angeles announced they were extending lockdown orders through July.
So, yeah, that seems prescient.
But, still, Gill is counting on there being heavy demand after several months of the public being locked indoors.
“If there are places where density is a factor and theaters aren’t open, that’s okay,” Gill said. “It might be that theaters are closed in New York City or Chicago or San Francisco, but less populated cities and suburbs will be open and we expect there to be a lot of pent-up demand.”
In addition to noting that theaters will work in tandem with health departments to follow new guidelines when they reopen, Solstice also alluded to an internal poll they conducted that showed more than 80 percent of the 1,000 people they questioned stated they wanted to go to the cinema in July. These results apparently surprised the company, as they were expecting something around the 40 percent range.
The crazy circumstances created by the pandemic also make this the extremely rare instance where a smaller film can push their release to the summer and still make big money. Unhinged was originally scheduled for September 4, but that's now the date that A Quiet Place II is expected to come out, after being pushed from its original March 8 date by the virus.
“We would get killed if we stayed [on that original release date],” Gill added. “The whole idea is not to be somewhere where you can get run over by a super tanker.”
Unhinged will be about a woman who becomes embroiled in a bad case of road rage after honking her horn at the wrong person.
As for the larger industry, it's not clear if Tenet will still see a July 17 release. Warner Bros., the company that's putting that film out, is said to be coming to a final decision that will be publicized in a few days.
Obviously every plan you just read about is subject to change.
You can watch Unhinged's first trailer above.