UPDATED: Disney Hit With Furious Backlash After Canceling Tom Hardy, But Movie Rescued

in Disney, Movies

Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock standing in an apartment in Venom

Credit: Sony Pictures

UPDATE: Deadline is reporting that The Bikeriders has been picked up by Focus Features, best known for arthouse films and critically acclaimed dramas. Universal Pictures will handle global distribution, which means that Disney has yet again lost a potential Oscar winner to a competing studio.

The Walt Disney Company has shelved a critically acclaimed drama starring Tom Hardy, Austin Butler, and Jodie Comer and has no plans to release it. While this is becoming more and more of a cost-saving approach by major studios, fans are having none of it this time and calling out both Disney and 20th Century Studios.

Tom Hardy and Austin Butler in The Bikeriders
Credit: 20th Century

The Bikeriders was written and directed by Jeff Nichols (and inspired by a photobook of the same name) and was, until recently, scheduled to be released in theaters on December 1, most likely turning it into a contender for major awards. However, as we previously reported, the Tom Hardy movie was abruptly pulled off the release schedule and not given a new date despite it being complete and already premiered at the 50th Telluride Film Festival.

In large part, this was likely due to the massive success of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, the world-conquering concert film that utterly crushed all other films released around it. The Bikeriders was scheduled to be released on the same day as Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, and it can be assumed that Disney was afraid the film would be swamped in the same way.

Renaissance: A Film by Beyonce Poster
Credit: AMC

Related: ‘Venom 3’ Might Be Tom Hardy’s Final Movie, Teases Spider-Man As the Villain

However, now it has been announced (via Deadline) that Disney is no longer going to release the film at all and that New Regency, the production company behind The Bikeriders, is scrambling to find a new distributor.

Historically, Disney has usually released adult-oriented movies and dramas via brand labels like Touchstone Pictures. This allowed the company to keep its family-friendly image intact while trying to expand its reach. However, Touchstone shuttered in 2018, and it appears that Disney no longer has much interest in trying to release any movie that does not gross a billion dollars.

Once upon a time, shelving a completed, acclaimed movie like The Bikeriders, one that has the star power of Tom Hardy, Austin Butler, Jodie Comer, and the directorial prestige of Jeff Nichols, would have been unthinkable for a major studio. Now, it is becoming standard practice for Warner Bros Discovery to refuse to release a movie like Coyote vs. Acme or Batgirl for tax purposes.

Coyote vs Acme still with Roadrunner
Credit: Warner Bros. Animation

Related: ‘Batgirl’ Directors Say Canceled Movie Was Spiritual Sequel to Michael Keaton ‘Batman’

Movie fans are no longer tolerating studios like Disney and Warner Bros canceling projects simply to increase shareholder profits. The shelving of Coyote vs. Acme has triggered Congressional action and an enormous outcry, and it appears that The Bikeriders is having the same effect, with multiple critics and cinephiles outraged.

For example, Twitter user @nadirawrites posted, “THE BIKERIDERS was possibly my favourite film to come out of this year’s LFF lineup. i loved it so much i watched it twice in one week. twice! disney, are you well?”

She followed that with, “there’s a scene in THE BIKERIDERS where the camera lingers on austin butler’s face as he flirts with jodie comer by staring at her in silence & slowly smiling. at LFF, you could literally hear everyone in the room giggling and blushing. you can’t get a reaction like that at home!”

@SeanFennessey posted, “I liked this movie a lot. A smart studio should pick it up and market the hell out of its incredible cast.”

@molliesgordon said, “the bikeriders NEEDS to be seen on the big screen, people wont appreciate the film in it’s entirety if home viewers are allowed to get distracted by the slower middle parts. have some self respect disney i beg 😩😩.”
It is unclear at this time whether New Regency will be able to find a new theatrical distributor for the movie, with many lamenting that the movie may go straight to streaming. We’ll have to wait and see whether there is enough outcry from Tom Hardy fans to give this movie any moment, or whether people will let Disney and other major studios keep pulling this trick.
Tom Hardy in The Bikeriders
Credit: 20th Century
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in Disney, Movies

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