MGM isn’t making the Oscar push for their Aretha Franklin biopic RESPECT for next year’s ceremony. It has been announced that the film, starring Jennifer Hudson as the legendary singer, has been pushed by seven months from January 15, 2021, to August 11, 2021. The culprit? Looks like COVID-19 has no “respect’ for the intended release and it becomes the latest title to be shuffled on the schedule due to the pandemic.
Make no mistake though, MGM has faith in RESPECT and originally wanted the film to make the cut to qualify for Oscar nominations but it’s also clear that they believe they have a film that could be a hit so they have decided to push it further on the schedule in hopes that moviegoing will be somewhat normal by the time the new release date comes around. As of now, the Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco box office markets remain closed, along with Regal Cinemas chain, which has shuttered 536 of its locations until those three markets reopen. Even though about 85% of the U.S. market is open, Comscore reports that only 49% of movie theaters are open. Throw in U.S. theaters operating with reduced hours and reduced capacity, studios are making the tough decisions to delay their films until the market is more robust.
RESPECT has moved on the schedule once before. The film was originally set for August of this year but was shifted at the start of the pandemic to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. The new date put it right in line to start a significant Oscar campaign and take advantage of the holiday weekend which has been kind to films predominately headlined by an African American cast. Unfortunately, the pandemic had other plans and now those looking forward to the biopic will have to wait a little longer for it.
The film is titled after Franklin’s 1967 hit and Hudson was personally chosen by Franklin for the role before she passed in 2018 at the age of 76. Hudson won a supporting actress Oscar for her role in DREAMGIRLS and the studio feels her chances of getting an Oscar nomination for this film are pretty high. Liesl Tommy is helming the motion pictures which also features a cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Mary J. Blige, and Tituss Burgess. The movie is expected to follow the rise of Franklin’s career from a child singing in her local church to a mega superstar.
Are YOU upset that RESPECT has been pushed back?