The wait is finally over for some of the biggest films and shows delayed by the pandemic
Production and release delays have resulted in a bottleneck of exciting fall releases
Dozens of major film and television productions were put on hold when the pandemic hit, only to be followed by repeated false starts and rescheduling as the COVID-19 crisis kept spiking. But the fall season is a prime release spot for blockbusters, TV hits and awards contenders — and this year could be an embarrassment of riches.
With so many films and television shows having been delayed into fall 2021, viewers can expect to see new fare from some of their favourite filmmakers, highly anticipated Marvel movies, the return of popular television shows (Succession fans, it's your moment!) and other exciting additions to the small screen.
The wait is finally over.
Old story with a fresh twist
In Dune (Oct. 22), Timothée Chalamet plays a young noble who journeys with his family to a treacherous planet where a mysterious resource grants immeasurable power to anyone who possesses it. Canadian director Denis Villeneuve's penchant for large-scale productions with gripping visuals and superstar casts make Dune an exciting option for a trip to the theatre or at-home viewing on HBO Max.
Meanwhile, Sopranos film prequel The Many Saints of Newark (Sep. 24) arrives after a one-year delay, taking viewers back to a teenage Tony Soprano's first encounters with the New Jersey Mafia. Actor Michael Gandolfini takes over the iconic role from his late father, James Gandolfini, who played Tony on the HBO series that ran from 1999 to 2007.
The film will be released in theatres and on HBO Max the same day, with creator David Chase telling Deadline that he "would never have made it" had he known the film would have a hybrid release.
In a slightly unusual approach during the pandemic, the latest James Bond film, No Time To Die (Oct. 8), will have a traditional theatrical release. It's the longest Bond film in the franchise's history, clocking in at two hours and 43 minutes, and Daniel Craig's last as 007.
After delays, Marvel reigns supreme
Let there be Marvel! Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Oct. 15), the sequel to 2018's Venom, is nearly here after four COVID-related postponements. Its initial release will be exclusive to theatres. Marvel's strategic timeline of film releases was heavily disrupted by the pandemic, with part of its schedule bumped to 2023.
But fans won't have to wait much longer for two other highly anticipated Marvel projects. Nomadland director Chloé Zhao helms Eternals (Nov. 5), in which an immortal alien race emerges from their earthly hibernation to battle their deviant equivalents and save humanity. The film will have its initial release in theatres, after which it will be available on Disney Plus starting Dec. 20.
Rumours have been swirling that Spider-Man: No Way Home (Dec. 17) will see star Tom Holland joined by the ghosts of Peter Parker past: Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire. For three generations of Spider-Man fans it's sure to be a blast, with confirmed appearances by Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin and Alfred Molina's Dr. Octopus. For now, only a theatrical release is scheduled.
Auteurs are back with big stars
Director Wes Anderson has called The French Dispatch (Oct. 22) a "love letter to journalists," chronicling the postwar goings-on of an American newspaper's bureau in France. As usual, Anderson's cast is stacked: regulars Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Adrien Brody are back, with Timothée Chalamet and Benicio Del Toro joining the director's roster of stars.
Ridley Scott's historical drama The Last Duel (Oct. 15) was co-written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, with the latter starring as a knight who challenges a rival to a duel after the foe violates his wife.
Baby Driver director Edgar Wright is behind Last Night in Soho (Oct. 22), a neon-lit horror flick about a young fashion designer who travels back in time and winds up in the body of a beloved 1960s nightclub singer, soon realizing that the young performer's life is a nightmare. The film stars Anya Taylor-Joy of The Queen's Gambit.
Film honourable mentions: Halloween Kills (Oct. 15), King Richard (Nov. 19), Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Nov. 19), House of Gucci (Nov. 24), The Matrix Resurrections (Dec. 22), West Side Story (fall release date TBA)
The popular kids of TV return
The family TV viewers love to hate the most is back. On the third season of hit HBO show Succession (Oct. 17), the Roys must choose sides in Kendall and Logan's bitter fight for control of the family's multibillion-dollar media conglomerate. Succession was riding high when the Season 2 finale aired back in October 2019, scoring more than one million viewers. We'll soon learn whether the show can maintain that momentum after COVID-19 production delays.
Also returning for a third season is Netflix's Sex Education (Sep. 17). High schooler Otis has successfully established an illicit sex therapy clinic at his school — but a new headmistress arrives, threatening to crack down on the school's naughty reputation.
And after five seasons on HBO, Insecure (Oct 24.) will take its final bow. The L.A. comedy-drama follows Issa as her professional, social and romantic lives ebb and flow.
A handful of new(ish) shows
In a reimagining of a show that premiered in 1988, The Wonder Years (Sep. 22) follows young Dean Williams as he reflects on his childhood in an upper-middle class Black family in Montgomery, Ala., during the 1960s. Don Cheadle provides voiceover as the adult version of Dean.
Years after he stepped down from hosting Comedy Central's The Daily Show, Jon Stewart is back with The Problem With Jon Stewart (Sep. 30), a current affairs show that he cheekily described as "The Daily Show, but less entertaining." While many welcomed the news with excitement, some are skeptical of Stewart's place in the current political conversation.
On Netflix, sci-fi noir Cowboy Bebop (Nov. 19) gets the live-action treatment with John Cho in the lead role. The original Japanese anime aired in 1998.
Movie stars on TV
Launching its second season after shutting down production in March 2020, Apple TV's The Morning Show (Sep. 17) is a success thanks to its megawatt star power — Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon — and its clever take on timely subject matter. The drama follows the anchors of a breakfast news program after a sexual misconduct allegation threatens to disrupt workplace power dynamics.
Look out for other major celebrities on the small screen this fall. In Apple TV's dark comedy miniseries The Shrink Next Door (Nov. 12), Paul Rudd plays a psychiatrist who entrenches himself into the life of a patient played by Will Ferrell.
For those interested in a little more action, Hawkeye (Nov. 24) will premiere on Disney Plus, starring Jeremy Renner in his signature superhero role alongside Hailee Steinfeld.
TV honourable mentions: Maid (Oct. 1), CSI: Vegas (Oct. 6), You (Oct. 15), Colin in Black and White (Oct. 24), Dexter: New Blood (Nov. 7), Riverdale (Nov. 16)