AT&T Inc's Warner Bros movie studio on Thursday (Jun 25) delayed the release of Christopher Nolan thriller Tenet for a second time due to the COVID-19 outbreak, dealing another setback to the industry's hopes for a late-summer rebound.
Tenet is now scheduled to reach cinemas on Aug 12, the company said in a statement. Most US movie theatres remain closed to help prevent the spread of the pandemic.
It comes as there has been a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in several US states.
"Warner Bros is committed to bringing Tenet to audiences in theatres, on the big screen, when exhibitors are ready and public health officials say it's time," a spokeswoman said.
Tenet is one of the big-budget movies that theatre operators are counting on to lure audiences back to cinemas following a worldwide shutdown earlier this year.
The movie is a science-fiction spy drama starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson from the British director of hits like The Dark Knight Rises and Inception. Little has been revealed about the plot. The film had originally been scheduled to debut on Jul 17.
Another closely watched film, Walt Disney Co's action epic Mulan, is set for Jul 24, though theatre owners worry it too will be delayed.
Big movie chains including AMC Entertainment, Cineworld and Cinemark have said they plan for widespread reopenings of multiplexes in July.
But officials in Los Angeles and New York, the top two moviegoing markets in the United States, have not given a green light for theatres to welcome back visitors.
Hollywood studios need as many locations open as possible to make back their investments in big-budget movies. Theatre attendance will be limited to enforce social-distancing requirements, and it is unclear how comfortable audiences will be with returning.
Roughly 780 indoor movie theatres are currently open in the United States, according to tracking firm Comscore.
Warner Bros said it planned to keep Tenet in theatres "over an extended play period far beyond the norm" after its debut.