More pain for cinemas as Warner delays The Batman

Production setbacks caused by the pandemic are being blamed for changes to blockbuster release dates

Warner Bros blockbuster The Batman has been postponed as the pandemic continues to play havoc with the cinema release schedule. 

The caped crusader’s latest installment starring Robert Pattinson was slated for October 1 next year but will now hit the silver screen on March 4, 2022. 

The upheaval will see Denis Villeneuve’s remake of Dune fill the gap, with the sci-fi opus moved forward from December 18 to October 1 next year. 

Production delays have hobbled Warner’s attempts to release movies on time, with The Batman’s shoot paused after Pattinson caught coronavirus

It comes as Europe’s largest insurer braces for a deluge of claims from movie and TV studios after the pandemic put the brakes on production. 

Allianz is poised for about €488m (£444m) worth of claims, with most coming from entertainment companies. 

Chief claims officer Thomas Sepp said “the resumption of film productions is slow”, especially in the US. 

The overhaul of Warner’s schedule is the latest in a series of setbacks for the cinema industry, which has been left reeling by MGM’s decision to move the latest James Bond installment No Time to Die from November to April 2021.

That decision prompted Cineworld to axe nearly 45,000 jobs and temporarily close 663 cinemas in the UK and North America. 

US chain AMC Theatres has vowed to keep all its cinemas open, but about a quarter of its Odeon UK cinemas will have their hours reduced to just weekends.  

The release turmoil will also see Matrix 4, starring Keanu Reeves, open on December 22 next year, according to Variety. It was originally slated for release on April 1, 2022. 

The Flash moves from June 3 to November 4, 2022, while Shazam 2 goes from November 4, 2022 to June 2, 2023. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged film fans to head back to cinemas in the wake of the Cineworld closures.

The British Government has also outlined how film and TV companies could re-start productions through its £500m insurance scheme

The fund is targeted at productions struggling to get going again because they could no longer get insurance cover because of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, UK cinemas have made just £282m in the first nine months of the year, compared with £1bn for the same period last year, according to British Film Institute data.  

Cineworld is now facing a restructuring of its $8.2bn (£6.3bn) debt pile.

The towering sum is a relic of its £3.6bn takeover of US chain Regal in 2017 - in an attempt to put the company on a firmer financial footing. 

Advisers from FTI Consulting have been drafted in to work with the cinema chain on its options, according to Sky News. 

Cineworld shares collapsed 36pc on Monday, leaving the company worth about £350m.