Tue. Sep 21st, 2021

(Reuters) – The release of the ninth installment in Universal Pictures’ blockbuster “Fast and Furious” movie franchise was delayed by nearly a year on Thursday as Hollywood scrambled to adjust to the worldwide spread of coronavirus.

The film, titled “F9,” was expected to be one of the biggest hits of Hollywood’s summer blockbuster season after its planned global rollout starting on May 22. The movie starring Vin Diesel is now scheduled to hit theaters on April 2, 2021.

Universal, owned by Comcast Corp, did not give a reason but the decision followed delays in the releases of several other Hollywood films due to global entertainment disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

The virus has closed movie theaters in China, Italy and many other nations, while a ban on travel from Europe to the United States announced by President Donald Trump on Wednesday is seen likely to curtail red carpets and other promotional events for movies and stars.

U.S. movie theaters remained open as of Thursday afternoon. But an industry source said operators may close larger theaters in some areas depending on advice from local authorities.

Ohio on Thursday banned crowds of more than 100 people. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom advised against non-essential gatherings of more than 250 through the end of the month.

Movie theaters were exempted, but even if they stay open, their schedules would have to be rearranged.

Paramount Pictures, a unit of ViacomCBS Inc, indefinitely delayed the release of thriller “A Quiet Place Part II,” which was due to start its international rollout in movie theaters on March 18. It also postponed romantic comedy “The Lovebirds,” originally set for April 3.

“Due to the ever-changing circumstances of what’s going on in the world around us, now is clearly not the right time to do that,” the “Quiet Place” director John Krasinski said in a posting on his Instagram account.

The decisions followed the postponement last week of the James Bond movie “No Time to Die” to November from April, and a delay for “Peter Rabbit 2” to August from March 27.

Separately, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland postponed its induction ceremony scheduled for May 2 to an unspecified future date. That followed the cancellation of the Coachella music festival, South by Southwest and other large entertainment gatherings.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Lisa Richwine; editing by Diane Craft and Richard Chang/Reuters)

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