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With the coronavirus crisis continuing to escalate across Europe, Sony has decided to push the release of its Peter Rabbit sequel back by five months, The Hollywood Reporter has learned, making the film the second major studio release to be impacted by the epidemic after No Time to Die.
Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, the follow-up to 2018’s hugely successful live-action/CGI hybrid effort with James Corden again voicing the famed bunny, was due to launch March 27 in the U.K. and other European territories, rolling out internationally the following week, hitting the U.S. on April 3.
But in light of ongoing events, Sony Pictures Releasing has now opted to shift the international release to Aug. 7 in Europe, with the rest of the world to follow suit. Currently, the film — also featuring the voices of Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Debicki, and with Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson and David Oyelowo in live-action roles — is also expected to launch in the U.S. on Aug 7.
The postponement comes amid major theatrical market disruptions across European territories. On Monday, as part of a newly installed nationwide quarantine, Italy announced that all its cinemas were to be closed, with others shuttering in countries including France and Slovakia. Cinemas across China have been closed for several weeks.
THR understands that Sony made the decision in light of Peter Rabbit 2 being an internationally driven title, with the first film making $236 million of its $351 million box office outside the U.S., and chose to also adjust the U.S. release due to piracy concerns and with DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour having shifted its bow to the Easter holiday frame.
Although the decision was not taken lightly, it is one that will no doubt dampen the spirits of exhibitors hoping for an Easter box office bump with the return of one of the most successful family films of recent years. In the U.K., for example, Peter Rabbit was the biggest family title of 2018, overtaking Pixar’s Coco, with $56.3 million. Other strong markets included China ($26.5 million), Australia ($20.2 million), France ($12.3 million) and Germany ($12.1 million).