Universal Delays 'Minions: The Rise of Gru' Early-July Release

Animation house Illumination says disruptions in the postproduction process make it impossible to finish the film in time for its planned global rollout.

After pushing back F9 a year in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Universal is delaying the early-July release of animated tentpole Minions: The Rise of Gru from Illumination Entertainment.

The move underscores that the movie release calendar could be impacted well into summer because of disruptions in the postproduction process. That's on top of March, April and May titles already being delayed because of cinema closures that could last at least six to 12 weeks.

Rise of Gru had been set to open in North America on July 3, after beginning its overseas rollout in late June.

"In response to the severity of the situation in France, we are temporarily closing our Illumination Mac Guff studio in Paris," Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri said Thursday in a statement.

He continued: "With this decision we are abiding by the French government's guidelines and doing everything possible to slow the spread of the virus as we care for our artists and their families. This means we will be unable to finish Missions: The Rise of Gru in time for our planned global releases in late June and early July. While we all grapple with the enormity of this crisis, we must put the safety and protection of our employees above all. We look forward to finding a new release date for the return of Gru and the Minions."

Universal and Illumination are the first to cite postproduction issues as the reason for pushing release dates. Until now, the decision to delay a raft of films was because of the blackout on moviegoing in North America and many territories overseas.

Theaters in the U.S. began closing in earnest this week. By Wednesday, all but roughly 430 of the country's 5,400 or so cinemas were shuttered, including the megachains AMC, Regal and Cinemark. The closures are unprecedented.