If you want the experience of “snarkily quipping your way through a video game” this December, you’re just gonna have to cop a PS5 and joke your way through Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War like the rest of us. According to a Disney/20th Century Studios press release, the mega-studio has yanked Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds as a sentient NPC in a video game, off its 2020 release date calendar, with no future date put in place. Additionally, they have set Death on the Nile to a similar fate, pulling the Kenneth Branagh-starring mystery off the calendar with no new date in sight.
This move, well, makes a lot of sense. Since the great Tenet debacle, no major movies have been wide released in theaters into this bonkers, coronavirus-pandemic addled environment. There was a ton of release date shifting, especially from Disney, but most of these were short-term punts into later dates of 2020. But now, after the big Disney moves of debuting Mulan as a Disney+ premium offering and Soul as a Disney+ regular offering, it seems as though yanking two of their bigger winter season plays from theaters, with no date to replace them with, is a final admission of “the pandemic, and 2020 en general, wins”.
Will we get to see either Free Guy or Death on the Nile by the end of this year? My best guesses: Free Guy, absolutely not. It’s too big of a budget, epic of a scope, and teen-to-young-adult-PG-13 skewing to merit a PVOD or streaming debut, especially with other attempts at streaming homes for big budget actioners stalling out. Death on the Nile, on the other hand? While a Disney+ debut for a mid budget, old-fashioned, adult-skewing prestige mystery feels unaligned, I could see the film debuting on Hulu as a splashy surprise “something for the grown-ups to watch around the holidays” debut.
So are any more movies actually scheduled to come out in theaters in 2020? The biggest one by far is Wonder Woman 1984, of which Warner Bros. is stubbornly sticking to a Christmas release. But if you ask me, they should look at Disney’s final decisions — and, y’know, “all of 2020” — and lasso that one back until it’s safer.
We’ll keep you updated once we know more about the new release dates and distribution plans for both Free Guy and Death on the Nile. Until then, here’s our interview with the Free Guy cast and crew, and the latest trailer for Death on the Nile.