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The dominos started falling Friday as Sony made a number of changes to its theatrical calendar amid the actors and writers strikes, including taking Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse off its spring 2024 date.
The studio also shifted its release plans for August racing pic Gran Turismo as it scrambles to figure out another way to market the movie without stars such as Orlando Bloom and David Harbour promoting it. It will now open wide on Aug. 25, with sneak previews on its original weekend date of Aug. 11, as well as on the weekend of Aug. 18. Further out, the studio relocated Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Kraven the Hunter from October. It also dated two big films for the first time: Bad Boys 4 (June 14, 2024) and Venom 3 (July 12, 2024).
Sony is the first major Hollywood studio to blink and make wholesale changes to its calendar since the SAG-AFTRA strike commenced July 14 (this doesn’t include smaller specialty films that have moved as a result of the dual writers and actors strike). Sony’s announcement confirms cinema owners’ worst fears that the calendar for both this year and next will see major disruptions.
Other studios are still in a wait-and-see mode in terms of their big fall and winter tentpoles, but there’s no telling how quickly that could change now that Sony has rearranged its schedule. The move could be seen as a sign that the unrest gripping Hollywood is not expected to have a resolution soon.
Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse is the biggest strike casualty yet in terms of release date changes, since it is part of a prized and successful franchise. Sony is taking the movie off of the calendar for now, since actors cannot do any voice work. It was set to open over the Easter holidays next year on March 29, 2024. This year, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse earned a dazzling $677 million at the global box office.
Even before the strike, the film was expected to be delayed but the labor strife further complicates matters. The Spider-Verse features are enormous undertakings, and the pressure is high to push the envelope after the original Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) won the best Oscar for animation and became a genre-breaking hit.
This year’s Across the Spider-Verse was delayed eight months before finally opening June 2. For a The Hollywood Reporter profile in May, writer-producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller said they were still in the process of figuring out Beyond the Spider-Verse, with Miller noting the beginning and end were pretty solidified, and the middle was a bit “squishy.” And star Hailee Steinfeld told THR in a story published in early June that she had done no voice work for the sequel yet.
Elsewhere in Sony’s slate, Gran Turismo was supposed to go wide on Aug. 11. Sans not having the cast, Sony is instead going to do sneak previews for two weekends, Aug. 11-13 and Aug. 18-20, and then open Gran Turismo nationwide on Aug. 25. It’s an experiment to see if word of mouth can fuel awareness. “The stars can’t promote the film but the audience can,” says a Sony spokesperson.
Kraven the Hunter is moving from Oct. 6 of this year to Aug. 30, 2024. Sony does not want to release the R-rated action film without a full marketing and publicity push that revolves around Taylor-Johnson, who plays the Spider-Man villain. Stars also include Ariana DeBose and Russell Crowe.
The studio’s Karate Kid movie is also relocating because of the strike, from June 7, 2024 to Dec. 13, 2024. The studio never announced a filmmaker for the project, and with the strike, development has stalled.
There were a number of changes not related to the strike, as well.
As many had previously speculated, the untitled Ghostbusters: Afterlife sequel is moving off of its Dec. 20, 2023 date. It will instead open on March 29, 2024. The move isn’t surprising after Sony didn’t tout the movie’s high-profile Christmas release at CinemaCon. Jason Reitman, who helmed the previous installment, returns to produce and write, with his co-writer Gil Kenan directing.
The studio also dated two tentpole movies for the first time.
The studio’s untitled Bad Boys sequel will hit theaters on June 14, 2024, timed to Father’s Day weekend. The film stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, with Bad Boys for Life filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah returning to direct. It recently completed filming.
The third Venom movie will go out July 12, 2024 (the studio was already holding that date for an untitled film). The film stars Tom Hardy as the Marvel anti-hero, with his longtime writing partner Kelly Marcel stepping into the director’s chair. It shut down production in Spain amid the actors strike earlier this month.
In other moves, Madame Web is moving up two days to Valentine’s Day from Feb. 16, 2024. The Spider-Man spinoff stars Dakota Johnson and Sydney Sweeney, and it hails from filmmaker S.J. Clarkson.
They Listen from Blumhouse is moving off Aug. 30, 2024, release date. A new date wasn’t announced.
The strike-related shifts couldn’t come at a more precarious time. The box office still hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels but is enjoying a historic burst of growth thanks to Barbie and Oppenheimer, which have fueled the fifth-biggest week of all time. But the heat of Barbenheimer is now at risk of giving way into a cold fall and winter.