“Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” is the latest movie to shift its release date because of the Coronavirus outbreak. Sony Pictures has moved its U.S. open from April 3rd to August 7th. The change likely has to do with how much money Sony thinks it will lose from the U.K. box office (along with potentially the U.S.)
“Peter Rabbit” was a big hit in North America when it opened in February 2018 (and England that March). And that’s the thing: the first film didn’t time with Easter. And in fact, that’s exactly what Sony was originally planning on doing with the sequel.
In May 2018, Sony announced that they would open “PR2” on February 7, 2020. However, a whopping year and a half later, in September 2019, the studio decided they would vacate Feb. 7 and instead hop over to April 3, a little more than a week before Easter.
“PR2”’s competition on Feb. 7 would’ve been “Birds of Prey”. But that wasn’t a family film. So the decision likely came down to the fact that “Peter” would’ve opened a week before Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” (Feb. 14). Of course, that film had to jump from the previous November to Feb because of the re-design of the main character. But that decision was made way back in May 2019.
The fact that Sony waited through May, June, July, August and much of September to change the “Peter Rabbit 2” date means that they were still seriously contemplating whether to keep the Feb. 7 slot.
When the first “Peter Rabbit” opened two years ago (Feb. 9), it dominated the box office for family audiences, trampling the animated “Early Man”, which opened the next weekend (Feb. 16). “PR2” might’ve had slightly the same effect on “Sonic”, which has now earned more than $140 million.
Sony may now be regretting their decision, having to wait an extra four months for the money from “Peter” to come in. But at least they were wise in their scheduling, taking an August weekend that could’ve (and probably should’ve) gone to “No Time to Die”.