Here’s every delayed 2020 sci-fi movie that should have been released by now. The year 2020 was set to be a big one for sci-fi movies, and many were originally scheduled for release over the summer months. Unfortunately, like in many other areas of life, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the movie industry, resulting in an unprecedented number of delays, reschedules, and cancellations that have left a formerly crowded year of science fiction releases remarkably empty.
Although the first few months of 2020 were business as usual for the movie industry, in March, the COVID-19 virus was upgraded to a global pandemic, resulting in lockdowns and business closures around the world that shut down movie theaters. Studios began revisiting their calendars and reworking their release strategies amidst an uncertain landscape. Universal Studios pulled their sci-fi movies The Invisible Man and Bloodshot from theaters in favor of VOD platforms in late March, the first in a tidal wave of momentous moves that soon swept through Hollywood. Before long, theater chains across the world began closing their doors indefinitely. Although theates have begun reopening in some areas, the industry is still in uncertain times: Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi blockbuster Tenet, perhaps the biggest movie of the year, miraculously released worldwide after multiple delays, but was not a box office success in the U.S. market.
The growing popularity of on-demand and streaming platforms, along with the emergence of big players like Disney+ and HBO Max, has thrown a wrench into movie release strategy, especially during troubled times like these. The sci-fi adventure Artemis Fowl, which was supposed to be released in theaters May 29 of this year, eventually debuted on Disney+ in June. Bill & Ted Face the Music was moved around several times before opting for a simultaneous VOD and select theatrical release in late August. Theaters in major U.S. markets remain unable to open due to local restrictions, and the second largest theater chain in North America, Regal Cinemas, recently closed its doors again for an unspecified amount of time. The following sci-fi titles are those that were supposed to have been released by October 2020.
Godzilla vs. Kong
The King of the Monsters meets the King of Skull Island in the continuation of the MonsterVerse: Godzilla vs. Kong. Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ shared universe began with the reboot of the Godzilla franchise in 2014’s Godzilla followed by the 2019 sequel Godzilla: King of the Monsters. One of cinema’s most enduring icons, King Kong, recently returned to the silver screen in 2017 with the blockbuster reboot Kong: Skull Island. The two most powerful forces of nature on the planet now find themselves on a collision course set to converge in spectacular fashion in Godzilla vs. Kong.
The highly anticipated meeting of these two cinematic legends was originally slated for a March 13, 2020 release after being moved up from its two previous May slots. Godzilla vs. Kong was then pushed back to November 20. It’s worth mentioning that this announcement came near the end of last year and was made in order to ensure an “A+ movie,” according to Warner Bros. Pictures’ Toby Emmerich. However, the Covid-19 pandemic eventually affected this title too as the movie is now set to release on May 21, 2021.
A Quiet Place Part II
John Krasinski’s post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror, A Quiet Place, debuted to rave reviews in 2018, raking in a whopping $340 million at the box office and receiving Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. Following the deadly events at the Abbott’s home, the family must now venture into the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence. Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, and even John Krasinski return for A Quiet Place Part II, also starring Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou.
A Quiet Place Part II is the only movie on this list to hold its world premiere prior to the postponement that came just weeks before its originally scheduled March 20, 2020 release. After being pushed back to September 4th, Paramount Pictures announced its move to the current release date of April 23, 2021 as pandemic-related theater closures persisted.
Escape Room 2
Capitalizing on the popular escape room craze, and adopting a low-budget horror formula, Sony Pictures released the psychological sci-fi horror Escape Room in 2019. The escape room concept involves a team of players cooperatively piecing together clues and solving riddles in a limited amount of time in order to gain access out of one or more locked rooms. The movie follows a group of strangers who are mysteriously brought together to navigate a series of connected escape rooms, each with its own deadly twist. Escape Room 2 points to even more deadly games to come.
Less than two months after Escape Room’s theatrical release in January 2019, Sony Pictures announced a sequel slated for an April 17, 2020 release. In February of this year, following a previous delay, Sony pushed Escape Room 2 back to December 30. At the height of the pandemic, amidst a slew of rearranging in the industry, Sony pushed the movie back again to January 1, 2021. Now the movie is set to be released on an unnamed date later in 2021.
Sci-fi fans are no strangers to watching video game characters come to life on the big screen. They’re usually watching the hero though, not a background character. Free Guy challenges convention by being an action comedy that follows one of the background characters in an open world video game. Ryan Reynolds plays a non-player character (NPC) working as a bank teller who, thanks to a program from the game developers, becomes aware he’s living inside a video game called Free City. He begins taking steps to become the hero and save the game before the developers shut it down.
Reynolds has become synonymous with action comedies since expertly embodying the signature wit and charisma of the beloved Marvel character Deadpool in its transition from graphic novels to film stardom. Talking about Free Guy at New York Comic Con’s Fox panel in October 2019, Reynolds said, “I haven’t been this fully immersed and engaged in something since Deadpool.” Originally in development at 20th Century Fox, Free Guy became one of the first movies to continue production following Disney’s acquisition of the studio, initially setting the movie up for a July 3, 2020 release. Free Guy’s release currently sits on December 11, 2020, but even the studio recognizes the uncertainty of this date, as evident by a comedic trailer tease featuring the cast of the movie.
Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts all reprise their roles for the fourth film in the Ghostbusters franchise, Ghostbusters: Afterlife. After attempting to reboot the series in 2016 with Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, producer Ivan Reitman began developing a direct sequel to the original 1980s films. Ghosbusters: Afterlife centers on two children who discover their family’s link to the original Ghostbusters following a series of unexplained earthquakes in their small Oklahoma town. Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, and Paul Rudd star alongside the returning cast.
The release of a direct sequel to Ghostbusters has stirred considerable excitement, but for now, sci-fi fans will have to wait; Sony Pictures originally planned to release Ghostbusters: Afterlife on July 10, 2020, but the title has been pushed back to a March 5, 2021 release.
Spider-Man’s world is about to get a whole lot darker with the upcoming movie Morbius. After bringing the web slinger’s arch-enemy to the big screen with Venom in 2018, Sony Pictures continues developing their shared “Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters” with the ominous Dr. Michael Morbius, a biochemist suffering from a rare blood disease who seeks to cure himself with a failed experiment that instead imbues him with pseudo-vampiric superhuman abilities. The Marvel universe gains another Academy Award winner as Jared Leto stars in the titular role.
Originally planning on a July 10, 2020 release, Sony Pictures delayed the superhero film three weeks to July 31. However, in response to the pandemic, Morbius was then pushed back to March 19, 2021.
A more inconspicuous movie than others on this list is the upcoming sci-fi drama BIOS, starring Tom Hanks. Though not much is known about the upcoming title (no photos or trailers have been released yet), many people can relate to the emotional core of the movie’s premise. Tom Hanks plays an ailing inventor, the last man on a post-apocalyptic earth, who builds a robot to protect the life of his beloved dog. On their journey, the robot learns about life, love, friendship, and what it means to be human.
Originally scheduled to release much later than the aforementioned past-due titles, BIOS has avoided much of the pandemic-related headache that comes with misdated trailers, premature marketing campaigns, and multiple delays. Universal Pictures pushed back the original October 2, 2020 release to April 16, 2021.
The age-old proverb “patience is a virtue” perhaps best encapsulates this year of movie releases, especially for fans of science fiction. What began as a crowded year for the genre full of highly-anticipated titles has, like so many other things in life, been impacted by the global pandemic. On the bright side, the delayed sci-fi movies are still to come; all the thrills 2020 promised have simply been delayed to 2021. It’s time for the genre to evoke one of its greatest cinematic achievements and embrace Arnold Schwarzenegger’s enduring words — “I’ll be back!”