STXfilms has indefinitely postponed the release of the apocalyptic action film Greenland, with a new date yet to be determined. The film reunites director Ric Roman Waugh with his Angel Has Fallen star Gerard Butler. The 300 star plays an Atlanta-area structural engineer who must escape with his estranged wife and young son as a pending global catastrophe caused by planet-killing comet looms. The strive to survive the chaos around them as they head for a bunker up north.
Greenland was scheduled to be released theatrically on Friday, Sept. 25, in North America. It already has opened at No. 1 in 13 markets in recent weeks in Europe as well as Russia and Taiwan, taking in nearly $12 million at the box office to date.
Greenland is one of several Hollywood films that have been delayed or redirected from theatrical release to streaming or other delivery mechanisms due to the global COVID-19 pandemic which has forced movie theaters to close or severely curtail their operations.
Other Hollywood films that have been pushed back include MGM’s Candyman, which is now slated for theatrical release next year, Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman, which has been pushed back from October to Dec. 25. Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow remains on track to open in theaters Nov. 6 but industry rumors indicate that it too may also be delayed, and Disney’s animated Soul, may be released on Disney+ instead of theatrically. Christopher Nolan’s spy thriller Tenet has been the only major release thus far that has debuted in theaters since the epidemic begin. Approximately 70 percent of U.S. movie theaters have reopened since the shutdown but audiences have been reluctant to return, according to reports.
“We shot this movie, cut this movie and tested it prior to anything known as COVID,” says Waugh via Zoom, from his home in Austin. “You live in all these hypotheticals. What would happen in an extinction event? The movies that I love are about how humanity gets tested and our own moral compass is living in a grey world versus black-and-white and what are we capable of to survive.”
The filmmaker says he agrees with the postponement of Greenland’s release.
“I’m very honored to be with STX as our distributors and studio on this movie,” says Waugh, whose other films include Snitch, Shot Caller and Felon. “This movie easily could have been put into a form of streaming. It could have been put out and they could have said, ‘See what you can do with it,’ but their love and passion for the movie was clear, and they wanted it to come out in the right way.
“I love that they believe in the movie the way I do and that it should be a cinematic experience. You’re not building a movie from the outside in, where you feel that you’re just watching a bunch of mindless action, but you’re actually living it through this family’s point-of-view and dealing with their own intimate story.”
It’s been a trying time for filmmakers like Waugh, who with his post-production team were at hard work putting the finishing touches on Greenland in March when they were forced to shut down due to the pandemic.
“You watch all these hypotheticals become reality and it was really a provocative experience but also this sense of hope and humanity that I wish we’d focus on today but, unfortunately, we’re not. I watched 300 people, instead of packing it in when the shut us down, take everything they could home and, literally, we finished this movie remotely—300 people all around the world, from different countries. It was their love and passion that brought this together. It was the best message of what I thought the movie was about. You saw it unfold in the people delivering it.”
Waugh and his Greenland team waited more than three months to get back to the Paramount lot and Technicolor to complete their work.
“It was a ghost town,” he recalls. “It was the eeriest thing because every single thing that we left the day they kicked us out hadn’t been touched—the cups, the pens, the seats, all of my notes, everything. It was like time stood still.”
Waugh and Butler plan to reunite for their third film, Kandahar, about a CIA operative who is forced to flee war-torn Afghanistan after exposing a covert mission.