It was the announcement a few weeks ago that Sony was pushed Peter Rabbit: The Runaway from June 11 to May 14 which made me realize that, yes, we were probably going to have a summer movie season. Paramount followed by moving A Quiet Place part II from Labor Day to Memorial Day, and just this week Warner Bros. moved In the Heights up a week to June 11. So I will admit my heart sank for a moment when I first glanced at the email announcing that Peter Rabbit 2 had been delayed. But fear not, the new date is more important than the mere fact that it has been delayed.
The James Corden-voiced sequel, starring Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson and franchise-newbie David Oyelowo with the vocal talents of Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Debicki, is now opening on July 2. That’s the date recently vacated by Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru, which got delayed for another full year until July 1, 2022. That left the family-friendly Independence Day holiday up for grabs, and Sony swooped right in to claim it. It’s perfectly placed two weeks after Pixar’s Luca and two weeks before Warner Bros.’ Space Jam: A New Legacy. And now the Will Gluck-directed film has its eighth (!) release date.
It’ll now open one week after Universal’s F9 (whose date change from May 28 to June 25 arguably set off another round of last-minute summer release date changes) and one week before Marvel’s Shang-Chi And the Legend of the Ten Rings. May is now home to Black Widow (May 7), Those Who Wish Me Dead (May 14), Spiral: From the Book of Saw (May 21), Free Guy (May 21), A Quiet Place part II (May 28) and Cruella (May 28). While Peter Rabbit 2 likely won’t approximate the earnings of a Despicable Me prequel/Minions sequel (Despicable Me 3 grossed $99 million over a Fri-Tues holiday frame in 2017), it’s not nothing.
As noted 17 days ago, the first Peter Rabbit was an under-the-radar smash hit, grossing $110 million domestic from a $25 million debut and a $351 million worldwide on a $50 million budget. A sequel, even if we might expect lower returns, was a no-brainer. Based on Beatrix Potter’s books, the film earned mixed reviews and had the bad luck to open almost concurrently with Paddington 2, which was justly held up as a masterpiece in terms of talking animal live-action kids flicks. However, if Paddington 2 was as good as Babe, Peter Rabbit is a hell of a lot better than Gordy.
The first film operated as a clever and enjoyable “Rushmore for kids” romp. Opening weekend controversies about exploiting food allergies notwithstanding, the film earned 7x its budget in theaters. My middle son (age nine going on ten) was a fan of the first one and won’t be thrilled when I tell him that he’ll have to wait another two months for the sequel. As for the overall summer schedule, we’re pretty close to “locked,” give or take if Black Widow sticks around (a delay for that Marvel prequel could set off another chain reaction) and if The Kings Man and The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard decide to not both open on August 20.