Artemis Fowl was supposed to release this month, so why did Disney delay the film by a year? Based on the series of books by Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl tells the story of a wealthy, young genius who learns the secret of a fairy race living under the Earth's surface...and exploits it for a profit. Due to the popularity of Colfer's novels, a live-action film adaptation of Fowl's story has been in development since 2001, but the project has seen a number of difficulties and delays since then.
Progress on a big screen Artemis Fowl adventure began seriously in 2013, and shortly after, Disney announced a director had been found in the form of Kenneth Branagh. A cast featuring Judi Dench, Josh Gad and newcomer, Ferdia Shaw, was revealed in due course and a release date of August 9th 2019 was set. Finally, in November 2018, the first trailer for Artemis Fowl was released and after years of development hell, it finally seemed like the movie was actually going to become a reality. Then, back in May, Disney announced Artemis Fowl was being pushed back to May 29th 2020.
Obviously, this disappointed Artemis Fowl fans who were eagerly anticipating this film's release after many years of waiting, but why was the decision made in the first place? Significantly, there have been no reports of any reshoots taking place on the Artemis Fowl movie, which would suggest Disney have no issues with the film itself. This is supported by the fact that the announcement came as part of a larger release date shakeup in the wake of Disney purchasing Fox, and that acquisition may indeed be a key factor in Artemis Fowl's delay.
The deal between Disney and Fox was made official only a couple of months before Artemis Fowl (and various others) were delayed and with the studio suddenly acquiring a whole new batch of movies to promote and distribute, it's perhaps no surprise that some previously set releases had to make way, especially since Disney already had a high quantity of releases planned for this period. This possibility looks even more likely considering Artemis Fowl's 2019 release date was taken by The Art of Racing in the Rain, a movie brought over to Disney from the Fox deal.
It's normal for Disney to shift their Fox movies as a priority, but why did Artemis Fowl have to be the film to make way? This is likely because the film's release is already coming a decade too late. The peak popularity of Eoin Colfer's book series has passed and instead of capitalizing on any existing momentum, Artemis Fowl will instead be looking to bring back old fans and attract a whole new generation to the story. For this reason, there is no pressing need to release Artemis Fowl within the next year, whereas many of Disney's other releases are sequels or parts of a wider franchise, and those will perform better if they're released relatively soon after the previous film.
While the Artemis Fowl delay is certainly frustrating, it is perhaps an encouraging sign of Disney's hopes for the film. If the studio had any serious reservations that Artemis Fowl was going to bomb, they might've forged ahead with the original date despite a myriad of other releases, skimped on marketing and hoped to break even. By delaying until 2020, Disney are giving Artemis Fowl a stronger chance of success, when the rush of the Fox deal has ebbed away and more time can be devoted to the potential birth of a whole new franchise.
- Artemis Fowl (2020) release date: May 29, 2020