Solstice Studios has decided to move up the release of the Russell Crowe road-rage thriller Unhinged from September to July 1.
The bold decision means that the movie will be the first new Hollywood offering as theaters reopen on a major scale after shutting down in late March due to the novel coronavirus. The current hope is that the majority of cinemas will be back in operation in late June, albeit with restricted capacity and other safety measures.
Unhinged is the first release from Solstice Studios, an indie studio launched by veteran executive Mark Gill in 2018.
The U.S. debut of Unhinged will also follow or coincide with cinema reopenings around the world, including in China, Australia, Germany, South Korea and a number of European markets.
“We are the canary in the coal mine, no doubt about it,” says Solstice president-CEO Gill. Until now, the first major studio film scheduled for release was Chris Nolan’s Tenet on July 17, followed by Mulan on July 24.
Gill said the decision to make the date change came after close consultation with the National Association of Theatre Owners and individual cinemas. Solstice also commissioned a poll of 1,000 that showed more than 80 percent of Americans want to go to the movies in July.
“I so believe in the theatrical experience. It is an important part of our culture,” says the exec. “This is something that America does better than anybody in the world.”
The date change was also prompted by the fact that in its old date of Sept. 4, Unhinged would have gone up against A Quiet Place Part II, which moved to early September after its March debut was scrubbed. “As a tiny speedboat, we decided we’d better get out of the way,” Gill says.
When theaters reopen, capacity could be reduced to anywhere from 25 percent to 50 percent. There also will be increased cleaning.
Gil readily admits that plans are subject to change should cinema closures be extended.
Unhinged takes an ordinary, everyday incident to its most terrifying conclusion in telling the story of a mother who leans on her horn at the wrong time, to the wrong guy. “Road rage” doesn’t begin to describe what he’s about to do to her and everyone she knows. The film is directed by Derrick Borte (American Dreamer) and also stars Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson and Austin P. McKenzie.