AFI gala honoring Julie Andrews, Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival and more pushed back over coronavirus concerns

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Julie Andrews

Several film festivals, gala events and movie premieres around the country have been pushed back in the past week over concerns about the spreading coronavirus.

As I reported on my BAM’s Blog, COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by coronavirus, has killed more than 3,500 people worldwide and infected more than 100,000. In the United States, the disease has spread quickly: More than 234 people reportedly have been infected and 14 people had died as of Friday.

That’s the same day that organizers of the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas, announced they were canceling the massive event. The 27th edition of the SXSW Film Festival was slated to run March 13-22 in Austin. Nearly 300,000 people attended SXSW in 2019.

SXSW this year had booked several high-profile speakers, including former presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton, Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Yang; filmmakers Lulu Wang and Judd Apatow; movie stars Janelle Monae, St. Vincent and Carrie Brownstein; rocker Ozzy Osbourne;  and TV personality and criminal justice crusader Kim Kardashian West.

As I also reported on my BAM’s Blog, organizers of the Cinequest Film and Creativity Festival in San Jose, California, announced Saturday that they were postponing the festival’s second week of programming to August due to concerns over the coronavirus. The festival kicked off last Tuesday and was to continue through today, and then will pick back up in August.

Cinequest co-founders Halfdan Hussey and Kathleen J. Powell made the announcement in a statement released Saturday, according to Variety.

“We want to make clear that our very first concern is for the health and well-being of all our audience members, our artists and our own staff. In keeping with the health safety directive from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, and the concerned request from San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo, we are rescheduling the second week of this, our 30th anniversary festival, to occur August 16-30,” they said, per Variety.

Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival in Arkansas also is moving to August because of travel restrictions and public health concerns stemming from the coronavirus.

The event have been moved to Aug. 5-8, according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. The festival was originally scheduled for April 29-May 2. Purchased passes will be moved to the new dates.

“This decision comes after careful consideration and consultation with our partners,” said Geena Davis, Bentonville Film Festival co-founder and chairwoman. “Our No. 1 concern is the safety of our content creators and our community of attendees.”

The sixth annual Bentonville Film Festival works to influence mainstream media to increase diversity in the content they produce and distribute, according to the festival’s website. About 37,000 people attended the debut festival in 2015.

The American Film Institute announced Saturday that it is postponing its 48th annual AFI Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute honoring Dame Julie Andrews in an apparent response to the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Associated Press.

As previously reported, the organization originally planned to bestow its Life Achievement Award on the stage and screen legend at an April 25 event in Los Angeles.

The event will be rescheduled for early summer, reports the AP.

“AFI’s decision to postpone the event is simply in response to the rapidly evolving nature of current events and our promise to ensure the well-being of the artists and audience that gather each year to celebrate America’s art form,” AFI CEO and President Bob Gazzale said in a statement Saturday, per the AP. “This move will allow our full attention to focus on the many gifts that Julie Andrews has given the world.”

The institute did not directly cite the coronavirus outbreak that officials in numerous countries, including the U.S., are struggling mightily to contain. But under the circumstances, it’s not hard to determine that is behind the gala postponement.

“No Time to Die,” the new James Bond movie, kicked off last week this series of film industry postponements, when producers announced Wednesday that the new espionage adventure starring Daniel Craig, Naomi Harris and Ana de Armas will be released in the U.K. on Nov. 12, with worldwide release dates to follow, including the U.S. launch on Nov. 2.

“MGM, Universal and Bond producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, announced today that after careful consideration and thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace, the release of ‘No Time to Die’ will be postponed until November 2020,” reads a tweet on the official 007 social media account.

The Bond film was initially slated to open in the U.K. and select international theaters on April 2, followed by a U.S. release on April 10, according to EW.com.

The announcement came after a huge online fan petition urged the studio to postpone the premiere over coronavirus concerns.

As CNN Business notes, just because “No Time to Die” was the first major Hollywood film to shift its opening dates because of coronavirus doesn’t mean it will be the last.

The outbreak has disrupted the global theater marketplace, forcing the shuttering of theaters in Italy, Korea and China — and the latter is the second biggest movie market in the world behind the U.S.

Most Hollywood studios remain committed to the planned release schedules for their spring films: As of Friday, Paramount said it has no plans to move “A Quiet Place Part II,” which opens in North America on March 20, and Disney’s “Mulan” is still set for domestic release on March 27.

“It’s futile to try and predict what will happen right now and it’s something only the studios can ultimately answer,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com, told CNN Business. “We’re all in a wait-and-see mode.”
-BAM

 

 

 

 

 

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