Warner Bros. has confirmed a swathe of delays for many of its biggest movies, with Aquaman sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, hit the hardest.
News broke overnight that the studio would be moving many of its release dates, with both Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and Shazam! sequel, Shazam: Fury Of The Gods shifted back.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom had originally been due to debut in theaters on December 16 this year, before being pushed back to March 17 in 2023 in March of this year. Now, the Jason Momoa-powered blockbuster has been pushed back even further and won't arrive in theaters until December 25 in 2023.
According to Deadline, the delay has been caused by the need to spend more time on the movie in post-production.
With Aquaman now gone from its March 17 slot, Warner Bros. executives have moved Shazam: Fury Of The Gods into that slot, delaying it from a planned release date of December 21 this year, a decision Deadline have attributed to the huge success of The Batman, which opened in early March in 2022.
As well as that, there's also the looming specter of James Cameron's Avatar: The Way Of Water, which will finally arrive in theaters this December. The Avatar sequel would have dominated many of the big ticket options for movie-going in IMAX and now Shazam 2 will be free to take those screens when it opens.
That does soften the blow of both these delays somewhat, but it's still gutting to read that we won't get to see Jason Momoa's Aquaman strutting his stuff until the very end of 2023.
Was it all bad news?
Not entirely, there was some good news, especially for horror fans.
The sequel to hit The Conjuring spin-off The Nun finally has a release date, that will hit theaters on September 8 in 2023.
Sadly, the long-awaited new take on Stephen King's classic chiller, Salem's Lot, will have to be awaited for a good while longer. Originally due in theaters this autumn, then moved to April 2023, the movie, which has been made by Annabelle Comes Home director Gary Dauberman, has now lost its release date entirely as, like Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, post-production is taking longer than expected.
Another horror, Evil Dead Rise, which is to be the fifth instalment in the Evil Dead franchise, has been moved from a planned release on HBO Max only and will now hit theaters. That's due in April 2023 in the slot Salem's Lot has vacated.
Finally, the reboot of classic comedy House Party, which counts NBA superstar LeBron James among its producers, is also moving away from an HBO Max release and into theaters. That's now due on December 9 this year.
Analysis: A change of tack for Warner Bros?
When The Hollywood Reporter covered the shock news that Batgirl was being canceled and would never be seen by the public, it also reported that Warner Bros. would likely delay both the Shazam and Aquaman sequels as it looks to spread the costs of marketing two blockbuster movies. It seems that's exactly what's planned out here.
In his early media appearances, Warner Bros. Discovery's new-ish CEO David Zaslav has made it clear that he will keeping a tight hold on purse strings, as has played out with numerous projects at HBO Max and at Warner Bros. canceled, including J. J. Abrams' sci-fi epic Demimonde, a Wonder Twins movie that was booked to debut on HBO Max, and, of course, Batgirl, which Zaslav and his team have decided serves the company better as a tax writedown than a theatrical release.
With the move of House Party and Evil Dead Rise to a more traditional theatrical release, it seems Zaslav and the Warner Bros. executives are still believers in the power of movie theaters, as long as they can budget accordingly.