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Upcoming 2020 Movie Releases Headed Direct To On Demand And Streaming

If there has been one predictable thing about 2020, it has been... unpredictability. Ever since the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping the globe, life has become a bit, shall we say, topsy-turvy for most of us. It's been a little bit tough adjusting to a "new normal" that always seems to be shifting and changing, and if there's one industry we can point to that illustrates this better than perhaps any other, it's the film and television business. Oh, sure, with more butts stuck to couches than perhaps any other time in history, there's certainly plenty of demand for new entertainment — but with the status of movie theaters perpetually up in the air, Hollywood has scrambled to find strategies for bringing viewers all of the awesome stuff we were looking forward to this year.

Major releases like Marvel's Black Widow, the latest James Bond flick No Time to Die, Christopher Nolan's Tenet, long-awaited sequel Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and the ninth Fast and Furious movie have all found themselves shuffled way down the schedule, many of them pushed all the way back to 2021. Increasingly, though, studios are opting to push new flicks out to home viewers — either by way of "premium" Video on Demand releases, or by cutting deals with streaming services. A couple movies from earlier in the year, the excellent Blumhouse thriller The Invisible Man and the DreamWorks animated feature Trolls World Tour, proved the viability of this model — and the remaining few months of 2020 will bring us a plethora of new flicks that will either get extremely limited theatrical releases, or forgo the multiplex altogether, to focus on home release. Here are all of the most notable upcoming 2020 movies heading directly to on demand or streaming.

Bill and Ted Face the Music — August 28

Fans of the 1989 classic Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and its 1991 sequel Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey have been pining for a third movie for decades, and the unbelievably awesome trailers for Bill & Ted Face the Music, in which our now-middle-aged heroes must grapple with their failure to come up with the world-changing music they were supposedly destined to write, have us ridiculously excited. 

Stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are both back on board, as are original writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, and the stellar supporting cast includes Samara Weaving, Bridgette Lundy-Paine, Kristen Schaal, and William Sadler (reprising his role as Death from the second film). Bill & Ted Face the Music was originally slated for release on August 21; it will now release to a very limited number of theaters on August 28, and simultaneously on VOD platforms. 

Mulan — September 4

By far the biggest film (so far) to get pulled from theaters entirely in favor of a home release, Disney's live-action Mulan remake endured multiple delays before the studio settled on using its streaming service, Disney+, to the bring the $200 million picture into American homes. While the film will still receive a traditional release in overseas markets where that's possible, stateside viewers who are subscribed to Disney+ will be able to view the flick for a premium $29.99 fee, and will then have access to it permanently, as long as they remain subscribers (via Variety).

Disney was just pushing out its massive marketing campaign for Mulan (including a full two-minute trailer which aired during the Super Bowl) when COVID-19 threw a wrench into its plans. While the Mouse House insists that this is a one-time deal, and is not indicative of a potential new release strategy for future titles, industry analysts will be watching the flick's performance very, very carefully. Mulan stars Yifei Liu in the title role, with a supporting cast that includes Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Rosalind Chao, and Jason Scott Lee.

I'm Thinking of Ending Things — September 4

Here's a little item that was always destined for home release, but which you will definitely want to check out: I'm Thinking of Ending Things, adapted from Iain Reid's 2016 novel of the same name, is a Netflix original which just happens to be the first live-action film from the infamously idiosyncratic filmmaker Charlie Kaufman in over a decade. Of course, fans of the novel should know that Kaufman has a very loose definition of the word "adaptation." For evidence, look no further than 2002's Adaptation, which turned a slight, narrative-free novel called The Orchid Thief into one of the most singularly weird (and amazing) films ever made.

The movie is ostensubly the story of Jake (Jesse Plemons) bringing his girlfriend — who is referred to only as "girlfriend" (Jessie Buckley) — to his childhood home to meet his parents (David Thewlis and Toni Collette). Where it goes from there, we can't be certain, but we're pretty sure that things will not be what they seem, that subjective reality will go bye-bye at some point, and that we will be left wondering what in the heck we just watched in the best possible way. I'm Thinking of Ending Things hits Netflix on September 4.

Antebellum — September 18

Antebellum is another movie that, in an alternate universe, we feasted our eyes on long ago; studio Liosngate's supernatural horror film was slated for release in April before being pushed back to August, then finally securing a VOD release for September (via The Hollywood Reporter). The film stars multi-hyphenate Janelle Monáe as Veronica Henley, an author who inexplicably finds herself transported to the mid-1800s. 

The flick is the debut feature effort from short film and video directors Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz; in addition to the ultra-talented Monáe, it stars Perry Mason's Eric Lange, Too Old to Die Young's Jena Malone, Angie Tribeca's Kiersey Clemons, and Fargo's Jack Huston. Look for it on all of your favorite VOD platforms beginning on September 18.

Enola Holmes — September 23

Okay, we've got five words for you: "Henry Cavill as Sherlock Holmes." Pretty cool, right? Well, here are eight more: "Millie Bobby Brown as Sherlock Holmes' little sister." Taken together, that's the promise of Enola Holmes, which is based on the Edgar Award-winning Enola Holmes Mysteries book series by Nancy Springer, and which will give the Stranger Things actress her first big-screen starring vehicle.

The flick was scripted by Jack Thorne, the scribe behind the excellent BBC miniseries His Dark Materials, and directed by Harry Bradbeer, who was at the helm of the widely acclaimed second season of Fleabag. Originally pegged for a theatrical release through Warner Bros., the flick's stateside distribution rights were acquired by Netflix for a pretty penny back in April. It will hit the streamer on September 23.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 — October 16

Here's another big release scooped up by Netflix: writer-director Aaron Sorkin's historical drama The Trial of the Chicago 7, which focuses on the court proceedings dealing with the cases of seven individuals charged with various crimes during the period of civil unrest which accompanied the 1968 Democratic National Convention. You can expect a streamlined narrative and plenty of Sorkin-y dialogue, delivered by a cast of consummate professionals: the flick stars Project Power's Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Aquaman's Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Borat's Sacha Baron Cohen, The Hustle's Alex Sharp, Ready Player One's Mark Rylance, Molly's Game's Jeremy Strong, and American Horror Story's John Carroll Lynch.

As reported by Deadline, it was of utmost importance to the filmmakers that Chicago 7 get the widest audience possible ahead of the upcoming presidential election, and to that end, the deal with Netflix was made. The flick will make it onto the streamer in just the nick of time: it's expected to drop on October 16.

Run — TBA

The thriller Run was to sport an interesting marketing angle: the tale of a home-schooled, wheelchair-bound teenager (Kiera Allen) who begins to suspect that her mother (Sarah Paulson) is harboring a dark secret, the flick was intended to make its theatrical debut in advance of Mothers' Day weekend. Alas, it was not to be — but it will soon be available on Hulu, hopefully in time for Halloween.

Writer-director Aneesh Chaganty is responsible for the excellent 2018 found footage thriller Searching, and of course, Paulson — the star of American Horror Story and the upcoming One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest prequel series Ratched — knows a thing or two about bringing the scares. In announcing the move to Hulu, Chagnaty made one of the greatest deadpan remarks we've heard all year long: "The film is about a girl who's been quarantined at home her whole life," the director said. "Watching it the same way should be a fitting experience in 2020." The film's drop date has yet to be announced.

Run Sweetheart Run — TBA

Run Sweetheart Run is an intriguing-sounding fright fest from studio Blumhouse and Country Strong director Shana Feste. The movie centers on a young woman named Cherie (Charlie's Angels' Ella Balinska) who agrees to a blind date with a guy named Ethan (Game of Thrones' Pilou Asbæk). When Cherie realizes that Ethan has sinister intentions, she's forced to try to make her way home on foot through the dark streets of L.A. — with her "date" close behind.

It sounds like the kind of picture that Blumhouse usually pulls off with aplomb, and the excellent supporting cast includes the likes of Breaking Bad's Betsy Brandt, Sense8's Aml Ameen, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Agent Coulson himself, Clark Gregg. Stateside rights to the film were acquired by Amazon in May; the streamer has not yet announced a release date.

Black Beauty — TBA

The 1877 novel Black Beauty: His Grooms and Companions, the Autobiography of a Horse by Anna Sewell has been adapted to film a slew of times, from the 1921 silent version to the most recent adaptation in 1994. But the tale of a young girl coping with the loss of her parents by way of her budding bond with the titular horse is a timeless one, and the latest update on the classic story will arrive packed with talent.

Writer-director Ashley Avis, whose 2018 feature Adolescence packed an emotional wallop, seems like a perfect fit for the material. Her cast includes Interstellar's Mackenzie Foy in the lead role of Jo, along with Hawaii Five-O's Claire Forlani, Titans' Iain Glen, and — as Black Beauty's inner voice — Kate Winslet, most recently seen in the 2019 drama Blackbird. Originally slated for a theatrical release, the flick was acquired by Disney — only the second non-Disney-produced feature the Mouse House has picked up specifically to bolster the library of Disney+. Mickey has yet to announce a release date, but we expect to see Black Beauty hit the streamer before the end of the year.