Disney has postponed the release of superhero movie Black Widow and Steven Spielberg's West Side Story until 2021, a setback to cinema operators hoping for a late-year surge in audience numbers.
The films were among the biggest titles remaining on Hollywood's schedule for 2020. On Wednesday, it was announced that Black Widow will be delayed by six months until May 2021, and West Side Story, a movie version of the classic Broadway musical, by a year to December 2021.
The few blockbusters left on this year's schedule now include James Bond movie No Time to Die, due to release on Thursday, November 19, and Wonder Woman 1984, which was recently moved to Friday, December, 25.
Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson as the Marvel action hero, had originally been scheduled for May this year before Disney moved it to Friday, November 6.
The push back means the release dates for two other anticipated Marvel films, The Eternals and Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, have also been delayed. The Eternals has been moved from February 21, 2021 to November 5, while Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has been postponed by two months, from May 7, 2021 to July 9.
"Marvel made the right and responsible decision," Eternals star Kumail Nanjiani wrote on Twitter. "There's a pandemic. Nothing is more important than health and lives. I can't tell [people] to go to a movie theatre until I feel safe going to one."
On Wednesday, Disney also moved back Agatha Christie mystery Death on the Nile to December 2020 from October, however it still plans to release animated film Soul on Friday, November 20.
Disney and other studios have shuffled their schedules several times as they try to gauge when the pandemic will fade enough to bring audiences back to cinemas. Some movies have skipped theatres and gone straight to streaming services.
The schedule changes follow disappointing efforts to get film fans back to theatres in the US, after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered cinemas worldwide in March. Theatres remain closed in Los Angeles and New York, the two largest movie-going hubs in the United States.