Universal is once again delaying “F9,” the ninth movie in the action franchise, pushing the film from a Memorial Day weekend release on May 28 to June 25.
The film, which stars Vin Diesel as Los Angeles street racer turned international spy Dominic Toretto, has been delayed multiple times because of the Covid pandemic. F9 was initially scheduled to hit theaters on May 22, 2020 but was pushed back an entire year.
This delay comes just days after President Joe Biden announced that the US will have enough vaccine available to inoculate every adult by the end of May.
The schedule change also follows news that New York City, one of the most vital movie markets in the country, will reopen its theaters at limited capacity this weekend for the first time since the pandemic hit.
It makes sense that Universal would give “F9” — the latest installment in the 20-year-old franchise — more runway since there’s a strong chance that vaccine distribution could surge by June.
As more people are vaccinated, there’s a likelihood that more theaters will not only open, but boost their capacities. New York City theaters can currently open at only 25% capacity. That’s a lot of empty seats for a billion dollar brand like “Fast & Furious.”
By pushing to June, Universal is also banking on “F9” being the first true blockbuster of the summer, the most lucrative season for the film industry.
Right now the big film on the schedule before June is Marvel’s “Black Widow,” which is set for May 7. However, it’s still possible that Disney (DIS) will decide to move that film to later in the season to grab a potentially bigger audience as well.
“F9” is not the only film that Universal is delaying.
The studio also announced that it will postpone Illumination’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” the next animated film in the “Despicable Me” franchise. The film’s release will be pushed back an entire year to July 1, 2022.