Sept. 2, 2021, 8:20 a.m. EDT

Paramount delays ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ until May 2022 due to coronavirus concerns

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By Mike Murphy

Your Tom Cruise fix is going to have to wait a bit longer.

Paramount Pictures on Wednesday moved back the release dates for Cruise’s next two films yet again, due to concerns that COVID-19 will continue to hurt the movie-theater business. “Top Gun: Maverick,” which was expected to premiere Nov. 19, was pushed back to May 27, 2022 — next Memorial Day weekend — while “Mission: Impossible 7” was moved from that date to Sept. 30, 2022.

Paramount, which is owned by ViacomCBS Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200340870/composite VIAC -0.51% , also delayed “Jackass Forever,” from Oct. 22 to Feb. 4, 2022.

The moves blew up hopes that the movie industry would return to a sense of normalcy anytime soon. A number of big-name movies have been delayed — often multiple times — or moved to streaming services due to the pandemic’s effect on movie theaters. While most theaters in the U.S. are open again, crowds have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, and the recent delta surge seems to be discouraging people from going to the movies.

Big-name movies that have opened exclusively in theaters have seen mostly disappointing box-office earnings, and there have been complaints that movies that premiered on streaming services — or streamed the same day they hit theaters — have made significantly less money than they would have in pre-pandemic times. Actress Scarlett Johansson sued Disney earlier this summer, claiming her salary for Marvel’s “Black Widow” was unfairly less because the movie streamed on Disney+ the same day it debuted in theaters.

The “Top Gun” sequel had originally been scheduled for a summer 2019 release, but was delayed a year for production reasons. But then the pandemic hit, and its release was pushed back to December 2020, then July 2021, then November 2021.

A number of other blockbuster movies appear to be on track for a fall release — as of now, at least. Sony /zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite SONY -0.03% recently pushed back the release of the supervillain sequel “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” from Sept. 24 to Oct. 15; MGM’s latest James Bond installment, “No Time to Die,” is scheduled for an Oct. 8 release; Disney’s /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS -0.37% “Eternals” is scheduled for Nov. 5; and Sony on Wednesday moved “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” back a week to Nov. 19, which “Top Gun” had vacated. AT&T’s /zigman2/quotes/203165245/composite T +1.25% Warner Bros. is also set to release “Dune” on Oct. 22, but that will simultaneously stream on HBO Max.

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