CEO: Sony Pictures Sitting on Theatrical Sidelines Until 2021

For Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Jan. 17 theatrical release of the sequel Bad Boys For Life will be as good as it gets at the 2020 box office. The Will Smith-Martin Lawrence starrer generated more than $424 million at the pre-COVID-19 global box office — and was released, digitally, to home audiences on March 31.

Speaking Sept. 9 on the Bank of America Securities Virtual Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, studio chairman/CEO Tony Vinciquerra said releasing a big-budget movie as theaters slowly re-open from the coronavirus pandemic shutdown is fiscally irresponsible.

“What we won’t do is make the mistake of putting a very, very expensive $200 million movie out in the market unless we’re sure that theaters are open and operating at significant capacity,” Vinciquerra said.

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Sony’s major theatrical slate, which includes Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Fatherhood, Morbius, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Escape Room 2 and Connected have all been pushed back to 2021.

Warner Bros. has been the first major studio to test the post-COVID-19 waters at the box office, releasing Christopher Nolan’s espionage thriller Tenet on limited domestic screens last weekend following an international launch. The movie generated $20.3 million in ticket sales without theaters in California and New York, bringing the movie’s global tally to nearly $150 million.

Vinciquerra said Sony this weekend would release in theaters smaller-budget film Broken Hearts Gallery, a romantic comedy from first-time director Natalie Krinsky and executive producer Selena Gomez. The studio has generated strong home entertainment revenue from Bad Boys For Life and Jumanji: The Next Level.

“You’ll see a lot of strange things happen over the next six months in how films are released, how they’re scheduled, how they’re marketed, but once we get back to normal, we will have learned a lot I think and found ways to do things that are somewhat different and hopefully better,” Vinciquerra said.