By Kris Burke (@KRISBURKE)
If events were normal, we would right now be less than six months away from the release of THE BATMAN and fans would be kicking off 2021 dancing the Batusi.
The trailers (plural because we probably would have been multiple ones by now) would be played endlessly as the hype train would be gaining steam for the solo return of our beloved Dark Knight to the big screen.
Well, as we all know, events are not currently normal and thanks to COVID-19, we now have over a year to go yet before we see the Caped Crusader on the big screen again.
Or will we?
Batman will be returning to a very, very different moviegoing landscape come March 4, 2022. Cinemas were shut down when the pandemic first starting laying siege in the United States approximately nine months ago and while some have reopened in a limited capacity with VERY limited seating, many others remain mothballed. For example, where I live we have two cinemas. One has reopened three days a week (this week being an exception with Christmas/New Year’s plus the release of WONDER WOMAN 1984) while the other, and the much larger one (with an UltraScreen to boot), remains closed indefinitely.
Throw in Warner Bros. Pictures’ announcement they will be simultaneously releasing all 2021 theatrical films on HBO Max in addition to WONDER WOMAN 1984 this year and it is fair to wonder what the future holds for theaters and the movie-watching experience.
By pushing THE BATMAN to March 2022, WB is clearly aiming to get the movie on the big screen as it is intended to be seen. Matt Reeves clearly is shooting this film to be seen and experienced in theaters, as do all directors, but the pandemic landscape we find ourselves in leaves nothing to be guaranteed even as vaccinations roll out across the country.
It is no exaggeration to think movie theaters as we know them are teetering on the brink of extinction or at least becoming an endangered species. The rise of streaming services combined with the toll of the pandemic has sped up the decline of theaters in the sense they were already showing signs of trouble. Many theaters have added amenities like full food service and leather recliners to draw audiences back but restoring moviegoers’ confidence post-COVID-19 will take a lot more than adding amenities.
This isn’t all gloom and doom, however — especially when it comes to the release of THE BATMAN.
If medical experts are correct, there will be enough vaccinations given and produced to be enjoying some semblance of “normal” in mid-to-late summer next year. If we take the latter part of that timeframe, say September, that gives WB six months to hype THE BATMAN as THE film to get you back in a theater seat.
That’s right, not only will Batman be fighting to save Gotham in the new film but he will also likely be waging a battle to save movie theaters in the real world as well.
That’s because a lot of big movies have vacated their 2021 release date already and there isn’t a real big draw like THE BATMAN on the schedule. Marvel has BLACK WIDOW and SPIDER-MAN 3 but nothing on the scale of an Avengers flick (though both could be decent size hits especially with the third Spidey film including heroes and villains from previous iterations of the character). There are the new GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE and the final Daniel Craig James Bond film NO TIME TO DIE. There’s no new Star Wars film until at least 2023 with the recently announced ROGUE SQUADRON directed by WONDER WOMAN’s Patty Jenkins.
Again these are big films but nothing like what THE BATMAN can and will bring to the table., especially with the tremendous reaction to the DC FanDome trailer this past summer.
There’s also the fact that people may not be very confident for most of 2021 with large gatherings. Even with a vaccine available, returning to normalcy isn’t going to be like flipping a switch. It is going to take people time to feel comfortable among crowds again, and that’s why 2021 may show improvement in terms of the bottom line for movie theaters it won’t quite be “back in business” for them yet.
Enter THE BATMAN in March 2022.
That thug in the trailer Batman beats to a bloody pulp in the trailer? That’s the pandemic and when Batman says “I’m vengeance?” He’s speaking not just for us fans, but the moviegoing public at large.
In conclusion, #TheBatmanIsComing and he’s coming to save movie theaters from a cruel fate. – Kris Burke
Kris Burke was born and raised on two things: Batman and Green Bay Packers football. He was an extra in THE DARK KNIGHT and has a bachelor’s degree in radio/tv/film production. He’s also a staff writer over at Acme Packing Company covering the Green Bay Packers. Follow him on Twitter @KRISBURKE.