Unhinged, a thriller starring Russell Crowe, will be coming to theaters on July 1, Deadline reported. Initially scheduled for September 4, this could be a test of audiences’ willingness to return to movie theaters amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Released through Solstice Studios, Unhinged stars the Academy Award-winner as a man whose road rage puts a horn-honking mother, played by Caren Pistorius, in serious danger. It’s directed by Derrick Borte and written by Carl Ellsworth. The film also features Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson, and Austin P. McKenzie.
Despite its tense premise, the most suspense surrounding the movie will likely come from whether or not Solstice can pull off bringing people to watch a movie in a theater. Company chairman and CEO Mark Gill explained the decision to move the date up was prompted by A Quiet Place 2 being moved to their film’s original September release date.
“We were sitting on September 4 and then COVID-19 happened, and A Quiet Place 2 moved out of its original slot and landed on our date. When you are in a speedboat and a giant ship is coming at you, you better move out of the way. We looked at the rest of the year, fall/winter and spring 2021. The release schedule was already crowded, and when you add all the films that have been delayed, it made it think that maybe we go sooner.”
The decision to open the film during the July 4 weekend wasn’t made without some additional strategizing. They conducted a poll of 1,000 filmgoers to see how many would be comfortable coming back to theaters then. Gill said they expected 40 percent of respondents to indicate they would feel comfortable. To the studio’s surprise, 80 percent responded positively.
Financially, releasing Unhinged at this time would be much less risky than it would be for anticipated tentpole films, such as Mulan or F9. Its $33 million budget is small enough that Gill seems to expect the investment to be recouped, even if not many people travel to the theaters to see it.
A major advantage will be the lack of competition during the summer season, which is typically dominated by blockbusters. Should theaters reopen with few-to-no other new releases, Unhinged could have far more screens available.
However, it won’t be like things are automatically back to normal. Theaters are expected to continue with preventive measures, such as reducing capacity and requiring audience members to sit a certain distance from one another. They’re also anticipated to display sanitization efforts and have staff members in masks and gloves.
Crowe — who was nominated for Best Actor three years in a row and won in 2001 for Gladiator — recently appeared as disgraced late Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes in the 2019 Showtime miniseries, The Loudest Voice.