The potential October bloodbath between Drac and Gomez appears to have been averted, though sadly all thanks to the pandemic. Due to the ongoing surge of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19, both once-competing Hotel Transylvania: Transformania and The Addams Family 2 will no longer release day-to-day and will each take different distribution paths.
Starting with Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, Variety broke the news during mid-August that Sony Pictures Animation was closing in on a $100-million deal with Amazon to sell the franchise’s fourth-and-final instalment and stream it exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. Sony Pictures is said to be keeping the rights for distribution for home media, linear television, and Mainland China releases.
This continues Sony Animation’s strategy of sending their 2021 output directly to streaming, as they had previously sold The Mitchells vs. The Machines, Wish Dragon, and Vivo to Netflix. Though the switched preference to Amazon may come as a surprise to some, it’s worth noting that Sony Pictures had previously collaborated by releasing their new Cinderella movie on Prime Video.
Transformania’s new destination has also pulled it away from its head-to-head October 1 release with The Addams Family 2, with a new date yet to be announced. The sequel’s bail on cinemas would bring an end to the series’ lucrative box office streak, where the previous three entries had grossed a combined total of $1.3 billion worldwide.
Moving onto The Addams Family 2, it looks like Gomez and his family will be the certain victors of the box office battle, though not without compromise. In a more generous offer for cinema owners, United Artists Releasing revealed a week later (via Bloomberg) that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s sequel will still release in theatres on October 1 as planned, but on the same day will give customers the option to rent through PVOD. UAR had previously utilised this strategy last year with films like MGM’s Valley Girl and Orion’s Bill & Ted Face the Music.
Variety also added that this strategy for The Addams Family 2 will only apply for the United States and Canada, as the international rollout by Universal Pictures is hinted to remain theatre-exclusive.
As stated earlier, the primary reason for these release switch-ups is due to COVID-19’s Delta variant, which has been infecting unvaccinated people around the globe at an unprecedented pace and causing hesitancy in moviegoers returning to the multiplex. Despite vaccines being widely available, children under the age of 12 are still not authorised to take them, and the addition of vaccine mandates for indoor venues in major cities like New York has brought up doubts about the performance of family films in cinemas.
Speaking of which, another reason for these decisions could be attributed to low box office numbers of recent family films, whether it’s Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway ($153m), Universal’s Spirit Untamed and The Boss Baby: Family Business ($42m and $92m respectively), and Warner Bros.’ Space Jam: A New Legacy ($149m). While other factors do come into play such as the theatrical-streaming hybrid deployments of the Space Jam and Boss Baby sequels, this could show that some families are still hesitant in taking their unvaccinated children into public cinemas, and that streaming or hybrid releases may be the safest option, both healthwise and financially, for the time being.
20th Century’s Ron’s Gone Wrong, Disney’s Encanto, and Universal’s Sing 2 are still currently committed to their theatre-exclusive releases throughout the remainder of 2021, though it remains to be seen if the ongoing circumstances will alter these plans.
Be sure to check out our Animation Calendar for the up-to-date release schedule of mainstream animated movies.