clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Delayed Movies of 2020, Ranked by Their Trailers

From ‘Dune’ to ‘F9’ to ‘Black Widow,’ so many movies have been forced by the pandemic to push their release dates. But that means there’s more than ever to look forward to.

Ringer illustration

In Hollywood terms, the year 2020 will always be remembered as the year of lost movies. Sure, some movies did come out—but more than pivots to streaming, 2020 was defined by shifting release dates and postponements. Such strange, bad, and frankly unpredictable times have led to an era in which we know so much about the upcoming slate, even as it gets pushed farther and farther down the road—in effect, the movies that were meant to come out in 2020 have had the longest rollouts in history.

That can cause a feeling of yearning—but it also causes excitement and anticipation. And so here we are, trying to measure that excitement. The Ringer staff watched every available trailer for the movies that have had to push their release dates and then ranked them by the quality of their teasers. Hopefully this list doesn’t make you mourn what was lost, but instead reminds you of how much there still is to look forward to. —Andrew Gruttadaro

Editor’s note: The following release dates are current as of publication and, given the state of the movie industry, are subject to change.

29. Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

Previous release date: April 3, 2020
Current release date: June 11, 2021

The only thing to watch out for here is whether the Peter Rabbit franchise continues to alienate the allergies community. —Gruttadaro

28. Tom & Jerry

Previous release date: December 3, 2020
Current release date: February 26, 2021

We’ve reached the point in the studio movie circuit where it feels like the remaking and repackaging of IP is determined by spinning a wheel. Spin the wheel: “Oh, Tweety Bird has to learn to live with a family of New York pigeons.” Spin the wheel: “Pennywise the Clown’s origin story.” Spin the wheel: “Tom and Jerry move into a ritzy hotel and the staff have to learn to cope with their chaotic antics.”

The premise isn’t very strong here, and at first glance the live-action mixed with 2D-aping 3D animation doesn’t seem to be either. The cast has potential—it would not surprise me if both Michael Peña and Rob Delaney are able to generate some genuine laughs—but the most interesting concept to me is whether this seemingly soulless, corporate-motivated, focus-tested IP play of a movie will be able to capture any of the magic of the original shorts. What makes watching those classic cartoons such a blast is the creativity and imagination on display. I have serious doubts that this movie will be anywhere near as clever as the old cartoons, but among the thousands of talented artists and animators likely employed to work on this, I am certain that plenty of them will try. —Mose Bergmann

27. Minions: The Rise of Gru

Previous release date: July 3, 2020
Current release date: July 2, 2021

26. Morbius

Previous release date: July 10, 2020
Current release date: January 21, 2022

No. —Miles Surrey

25. Jungle Cruise

Previous release date: July 24, 2020
Current release date: July 30, 2021

24. Spiral: From the Book of Saw

Previous release date: May 15, 2020
Current release date: May 21, 2021

This trailer is a journey, but I was along for the entire ride. Within the opening seconds I had already decided I’d be seeing this movie, whatever it might be about: A buddy-cop flick with a jaded Chris Rock and a family-photo-toting Max Minghella?? Yes, please, sign me up! When it started to take a darker turn—kinda Se7en-y, even?—I was still extremely in, and that was before the motherfucking Samuel L. Jackson cameo. And I’ll freely admit it wasn’t until the very end that I totally realized that this movie exists as some sort of tangential ninth (!) movie in the Saw cinematic universe, but that’s the whole Saw experience, isn’t it? All the signs—the spirals, duh, the “Hello, Zepp” theme by Charlie Clouser—had been there all along. I just hope no one hurts Max Minghella. —Katie Baker

23. Free Guy

Previous release date: July 3, 2020
Current release date: May 21, 2021

[Trailer announcer voice] This summer … Deadpool’s Ryan Reynolds IS Emmet from The Lego Movie IN Grand Theft Auto AS Ready Player One WITH Taika Waititi AND Jodie Comer ON a motorcycle WITH guns AND the guy with the good haircut from Stranger Things.

A tale as old as time: one man saving the world and looking for love, in a struggle of good versus evil and gunplay and car chases. Free Guy looks fine. I’ll probably like it when I watch it on HBO while hung over on a Saturday two years from now. —Michael Baumann

22. Antlers

Previous release date: April 17, 2020
Current release date: None

There’s something about a dirty little kid in a horror movie. The relative cleanliness and odor of an underage person in any film is not inherently linked to the movie’s overall quality, but it is a strong indicator of tone. And the Antlers trailer is close to a master class in establishing tone. In two minutes, it tells us this movie will be dark, sad, mysterious, and just a bit nasty. The audio mix especially is a highlight here, with a subtle bed of jangled police-scanner chatter blending with indigenous chanting that creates a sense of genuine unease.

Also: Scene-chewing Jesse Plemons laying out the two separate locations of the halves of a man’s body that were found, presumably ripped asunder by a Wendigo-like monster?

That’s cinema, baby. —Bergmann

21. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Previous release date: October 23, 2020
Current release date: None

We deserve more movie musicals in 2021! And based solely on the glittery, optimistic vibes of the trailer, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie looks like a strong start. Based on the 2017 musical, the movie tells the tale of Jamie, a 16-year-old who aspires to be a drag queen, and decides there’s no better time to debut than at prom. (He’s absolutely right.) My only quibble with the trailer is that if Richard E. Grant is in your movie, especially as Jamie’s drag-queen Jedi master, you put him right at the beginning. Come on, people! —Kate Halliwell

20. The Woman in the Window

Previous release date: May 15, 2020
Current release date: 2021

The Invisible Man, Unsane, Mother!—the past few years have given us a trend of movies in which the main character is gaslighted, told that the things they’re experiencing aren’t actually happening that way. And regardless of what you think about those movies on the whole, it’s undeniable that all three of them produced intense, gripping performances from their female leads. The Woman in the Window—about an agoraphobe (Amy Adams) who witnesses the killing of her neighbor before having her sense of reality called into question—looks destined to hop on this trend. And while the movie may indeed look flawed, you can’t tell me you aren’t hyped to see Adams, one of the best actresses of her generation, go full bore in a psychological thriller. —Gruttadaro

19. Raya and the Last Dragon

Previous release date: November 25, 2020
Current release date: March 5, 2021

The trailer for Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon revels in boundary pushing. Directed by Donald Hall and Carlos López Estrada, and penned by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim (of Crazy Rich Asians), the animated project is aesthetically indebted to the myriad cultures of Southeast Asia. Plot-wise, it appears to be, if not unbound, then unknown. Is the film an archeological heist or a fantasy epic? For how long is Kelly Marie Tran’s Raya a child? Where is the eponymous serpent to which the title alludes? These are questions for later. For now, the world on screen, the bright landscape of the film, is what matters most. —Lex Pryor

18. Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Previous release date: July 10, 2020
Current release date: November 11, 2021

Stepping into the Ghostbusters discourse feels like a dangerous game, but I come in peace. I’m an Elder Millennial who absorbed both original films via my dad watching them over and over and over. I have vivid memories of the time a kid puked up the nuclear-green remnants of a Hi-C Ecto Cooler juice box in the middle of our first grade classroom. The franchise was a constant yet hazy presence throughout my entire childhood, which is exactly why this trailer feels microtargeted to me. The kid from Stranger Things, itself a program that panders to my aching, if vague, nostalgia! A young girl in late-great-Ramis glasses! Paul Rudd yelling “killer replica!” While I understand that some may be uneasy about a new Ghostbusters movie—particularly one starring a bunch of kids—it feels as though it will go to great lengths to honor the source material, and seeing that dusty mobile in the barn shed provides one small glimpse. Like his father before him, Jason Reitman wrote and directed the film. And like my father before me, I plan to watch it as soon as I can. —Baker

17. Black Widow

Previous release date: May 1, 2020
Current release date: May 7, 2021

The first movie set to be released from Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe—barring yet another delay [knocks on wood]—Black Widow is also a swan song for one of the franchise’s longstanding characters. It’s taken over a decade for Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff to get a stand-alone movie, but if the principal cast is anything to go by, Black Widow will be worth the wait. Joining Johansson for the ride is a trifecta of actors with no shortage of internet admirers making their MCU debuts: Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, and Florence Pugh. (Based on the trailer, all these actors will talk about the importance of “family” nearly as much as Dominic Toretto.) Keep an eye on Pugh, in particular: Not only is she one of the most talented actresses of her generation, but if the comics are anything to go by, her character, Yelena Belova, will be taking up the Black Widow mantle for the foreseeable future. Marvel comrades, rejoice. —Surrey

16. No Time to Die

Previous release date: April 10, 2020
Current release date: October 8, 2021

Given the profound mediocrity and supreme confusion that was Spectre, as well as the suspended state of turmoil of the Bond franchise given that this is Daniel Craig’s final movie, my hopes honestly aren’t all that high that No Time to Die will be a saving grace. But hey, this trailer looks cool. Just based on the trailer, does it look like the movie will be a hair too long and completely overstuffed? Yes. Does James Bond look super cool, argue with hot intelligent people, hang out in beautiful locations, drive around, punch guys, and also operate a machine-gun-compliant Aston Martin? Also yes.

So umm … yes please! This movie looks like the perfect hangover cure for a year without the movies. —Bergmann

15. In the Heights

Previous release date: June 26, 2020
Current release date: June 18, 2021

No matter how you feel about our current state of Lin-Manuel Miranda Fatigue, it’s hard to come out of the In the Heights trailer not excited about the wide variety of fresh talent on display, including Hamilton’s Anthony Ramos, Straight Outta Compton’s Corey Hawkins, Melissa Barrera, Dascha Polanco, and more. “It’s the story of a block that was disappearing—un barrio called Washington Heights, where the streets were made of music,” Ramos tells a group of kids, before the trailer bursts into a medley of songs, dance numbers, and what appears to be a ton of fun. No more Hamilton memes, please—but I’ll take more of this. —Halliwell

14. The King’s Man

Previous release date: February 14, 2020
Current release date: August 20, 2021

World War I was so brutal and slow-moving it’s tough to make a good movie about it. One way to spice things up is to set a comic book conflict against the real-world battlefield. That’s what Wonder Woman did, and The King’s Man will follow suit, pitting its foppish heroes up against real-world historical figures like Grigori Rasputin, Lord Kitchener, and Kaiser Wilhelm II.

There’s practically no chance this movie is bad. First of all, it’s the third Kingsman movie directed by Matthew Vaughn who, between Stardust, Layer Cake, Kick-Ass, and two X-Men movies, has dropped one funny, violent action movie after another without ever producing a dud. Second, The King’s Man is an over-the-top action movie about quippy, good-looking spies with cool gadgets. From Mission: Impossible to the Bond franchise to Charlie’s Angels, when’s the last time you saw a movie that fit that description and didn’t have a good time? Never? That’s what I thought. —Baumann

13. A Quiet Place Part II

Previous release date: March 20, 2020
Current release date: April 23, 2021

Remember that second weekend last March when it was like the pandemic switch flipped and everything changed? That was the weekend A Quiet Place Part II was meant to come out in theaters. Now, until at least April, all we have is the trailer. Like so many reboots and sequels on this list, A Quiet Place Part II is one more continuation of a previously told story. And yet its teaser trailer—which originally debuted during the Super Bowl pregame show several millennia ago—still feels intriguing and fresh. This is in part because of the goodwill John Krasinski and Emily Blunt amassed with their inventive, terrifying A Quiet Place in 2018, which began on Day 89 of a world-shattering event. It’s also in part because of the new trailer’s introduction to (an almost unrecognizable!) cast member Cillian Murphy, a charter member of the “Oooooh, he’s in this?” hall of fame. But most of all, it’s because of the trailer’s wild hijacked-bus opening scene, which flashes us back to Day 1, when all of this mess was juuuust beginning. Sound familiar? —Baker

12. Coming 2 America

Previous release date: December 18, 2020
Current release date: March 5, 2021

If there’s a selling point for Coming 2 America, a sequel to the 33-year-old masterpiece, it is familiarity. Everyone is back: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley, James Earl Jones, the barbershop uncles, and Sexual Chocolate. Their punch lines might be a little wobbly and their faces more full, but they’re all still here and, hey, so are you. In a year when nothing but the worst has remained the same, the sight of these characters imparts a kind of wonderfully hacky warmth. The film promised in this trailer is less a feast of nostalgia than a rejoining of kin. I don’t know about you, but I could use a little bit of that now. —Pryor

11. Zola

Previous release date: 2020
Current release date: June 30, 2021

If you know anything about the Twitter legend of Zola; if you know anything about A24; if you know anything about coscreenwriter Jeremy O. Harris; if you know anything about Riley Keough, an actress who’s perfected the art of playing the kind of character who ends up on a journey involving pimps, murder, and Florida … then you know why this movie is one of the most-hyped projects to be pushed from 2020. The teaser doesn’t show much actual footage from the movie, but just being reminded of the legendary tweet that started the whole thing is enough at this point. —Gruttadaro

10. Candyman

Previous release date: June 12, 2020
Current release date: August 27, 2021

If you think I’m going to say the name of this film multiple times in this blurb, you are sorely mistaken. I don’t play that shit and neither should you. What I will do is tell you to check out the sequel to the film because the trailer looks enthralling. It’s directed and written by Nia DaCosta (with help from Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld) and features many of the actors from the 1992 original. Vanessa Estelle Williams is back as Anne-Marie McCoy, but this time, the Emmy Award–winning Yahya Abdul-Mateen II checks in as her son Anthony. There’s also another guy, who plays a character with a hook who you may have heard of, whose title I already said I’m not saying. He’s in it and he looks terrifying. That’s really all I can say. It’s all you should need to know. —Pryor

9. The French Dispatch

Previous release date: July 24, 2020
Current release date: TBD

Love or hate Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch looks like he’s playing the hits: absurd deadpan comedy, ambiguously European proper nouns, and just-so chocolate-box set design and costuming. This tribute to the mid-20th century New Yorker is a fitting canvas for members of Anderson’s repertory company—Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, and Owen Wilson—supplemented by established guest stars like Benicio del Toro, Timothée Chalamet, and Jeffrey Wright. (It was in guest star roles like these that Gene Hackman and Ralph Fiennes delivered two of the funniest performances of the 21st century.)

The French Dispatch looks like the most Wes Anderson movie yet. It’s so stylized and maximalist it makes Grand Budapest Hotel look like Rushmore and makes Rushmore look like Gus Van Sant’s Elephant. I can’t wait. —Baumann

8. The Batman

Previous release date: June 25, 2021
Current release date: March 4, 2022

Editor’s note: Though The Batman wasn’t set to come out in 2020, we’re including it here because its trailer came out in 2020.

Any concerns about getting yet another take on Batman so shortly after the underwhelming Batfleck experiment overseen by Zack Snyder were washed away with two-and-a-half minutes of intriguing footage from Matt Reeves’s The Batman. The trailer—released during the virtual, Comic Con–like DC Fandome event in August—was spliced together with Reeves having completed only about a quarter of production, but you can feel the unmistakable imprint of a moody vibe I can describe only as “Se7en meets Gotham City.” As for the latest iteration of the Caped Crusader, disarmingly handsome weirdo Robert Pattinson is caked in as much eyeliner as a punk band frontman, beats the shit out of some goon in over his head, and also purrs out “I’m vengeance.” I’ll be there opening night. —Surrey

7. The Green Knight

Previous release date: May 29, 2020
Current release date: July 30, 2021

In the three years since Moonlight’s miraculous Best Picture win at the 2017 Oscars, it seems as if indie-darling super distributor A24 has fallen into a comfortable rhythm. With the exception of the loud, dizzying camerawork and style in its HBO collab Euphoria, A24 projects can typically be categorized as artist-driven vehicles, featuring medium to low budgets that are elevated primarily by writing, performance, and direction rather than scale or wow factor. So settling into The Green Knight trailer, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. Shades of: “Seems interesting” and “It’s been forever since there’s been a serious King Arthur take,” but also “The blinders are on, I wonder how they’ll do justice by a legit fantasy story.” Then they fucking light Dev Patel, floating in midair, on fire—and in this 100-second clip, we also see glimpses of puppet beheadings, giant (literally) hands reaching over the horizon, an angry tree man (presumably, the titular role), and Alicia Vikander. I preordered my ticket the second the trailer stopped, and by that I mean I put $18 in a Ziploc on my nightstand for an opening-night ticket and a Sprite. —Bergmann

6. F9

Previous release date: May 22, 2020
Current release date: May 28, 2021

That the trailer for the ninth Fast & Furious movie is this far down on this list is, I think, just a testament to how long ago it was released. Because, truly, nothing is better than this trailer—a nearly four-minute behemoth that features John Cena as Dominic Toretto’s brother (!), Vin Diesel turning a car into a plane (!!), and the resurrection of Han Seoul-Oh (!!!). They don’t have an Oscar for trailers, but if they did, the F9 trailer would win it EVERY YEAR. Yes, I know this movie was supposed to come out a long time ago—so long ago that Vin Diesel has had enough time in the interim to start a music career. But watch the trailer again. You won’t be disappointed. —Gruttadaro

5. Top Gun: Maverick

Previous release date: June 24, 2020
Current release date: July 2, 2021

One of these days, someone needs to grab Hollywood by the lapels, give them a good shake, and remind them that not every hit movie needs a sequel. But as Tom Cruise tells Ed Harris in the rip-roaring first trailer for Top Gun: Maverick, “That may be so … but not today.” Despite a glaring lack of “Danger Zone,” the first trailer packs in just enough sick jet action, near-naked beach sports, and a meticulously preserved Tom Cruise to confirm that the best gifts are the ones you didn’t even know you wanted. Tom, please hurry up and single-handedly frighten the film industry into safety. We need this one on the big screen. —Halliwell

4. Nobody

Previous release date: August 14, 2020
Current release date: April 2021

I could give you hundreds of guesses as to which middle-aged actor is next in line to get the revenge action-movie treatment—statues should be erected in Keanu Reeves’s and Liam Neeson’s honor for starting the trend—and you probably wouldn’t land on [squints] Bob Odenkirk. And yet, Universal Pictures dared to dream of a world in which the guy responsible for the smarmy lawyer of the Breaking Bad universe and one-half of Mr. Show would approach a bunch of thugs harassing a woman on the bus, remove all the bullets from a pistol, and tell them that he’s about to fuck them up. It’s too soon to say whether Nobody belongs on cinema’s Mount Rushmore alongside the likes of Citizen Kane, Rashomon, and Mulholland Drive, but with Bob goddamn Odenkirk kicking ass for three glorious minutes in its trailer, we’re off to a fantastic start. —Surrey

3. Minari

Previous release date: December 11, 2020
Current release date: February 12, 2021

An intimate portrait of a Korean family immigrating to the American South, Minari approaches the rarefied territory of “a trailer for a movie bringing you to tears.” (Good luck to all of us trying to hold it together for the full 115 minutes.) At the center of Minari is the family’s patriarch played by Steven Yeun, who is a contender for the most underrated actor of his generation. While many viewers’ first introduction to Yeun was in his role as Glenn Rhee for more than 60 episodes of The Walking Dead, he’s since carved out meaningful roles in Bong Joon-ho’s Okja, Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You, and Lee Chang-dong’s Burning, which, in a just world, should’ve netted him an Oscar nomination. Here’s hoping Minari is as good as it looks, and that Yeun finally gets the industry plaudits befitting his tremendous body of work. —Surrey

2. Dune

Previous release date: December 18, 2020
Current release date: October 1, 2021

As a person who didn’t finish his high school assignment to read Dune over the summer, I’m both unqualified to judge this trailer and, I suspect, more representative of the overall viewing public. I’ll leave the lore chat to someone else—to me, what makes Dune exciting is its sheer scale and the fact that in 2021, massive budgets aren’t often allocated for weird, dated IP. Dune appears to be the rare epic that doesn’t have franchise affiliations, and it features many of Hollywood’s brightest stars—Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac—and is helmed by Denis Villeneuve, a director who’s proved himself in the sci-fi space. This trailer was an event; the movie will be too. —Gruttadaro

1. Judas and the Black Messiah

Previous release date: August 21, 2020
Current release date: February 12, 2021

The first trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah—directed and cowritten by Shaka King—displays a beret-ed Daniel Kaluuya enveloped by acolytes. “Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton of the Illinois Black Panther Party,” he drawls into the lens. The fact that these words—and the film that they appear in—exist, is, quite simply, revolutionary. If you know about the life of Fred Hampton, how it was stolen and for what reasons, then you will understand why. If not, watch the trailer. Then watch the film. It is a testament to Hampton’s and so many others’ lives. Then you will know. —Pryor

This piece was updated after publication with new information.