Universal has officially pulled the sci-fi thriller Extinction from its theatrical release schedule for 2018. An original film that features names like Michael Peña (Ant-Man), Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), and Mike Colter (Luke Cage) as cast members, Extinction was previously set to hit theaters on January 26, 2018. There, it would have opened against the Matthew McConaughey-headlined crime flick White Boy Rick, in addition to the third and final installment in The Maze Runner franchise, The Death Cure.
Extinction tells the story of a man (Peña) who must save his family from a mysterious "otherworldly phenomenon" (as the film's logline puts it) that he keeps having recurring dreams of. The idea for the project was conceived by relative newcomer Spenser Cohen, who cowrote the script with Black Sails veteran Brad Caleb Kane and Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer (though Heisserer, by his own admittance, only worked on the script for a week back in 2014). Hounds of Love director Ben Young called the shots on the film, which has shown no signs of development issues that might explain its release date change, prior to this point.
THR is confirming that Universal has pulled Extinction from its official release schedule for the time being, but has yet to provide a formal explanation for the decision. Even with this move, the studio still has at least one film slated to arrive in every month of 2018 (starting with Insidious: The Last Key in January), save for May. However, given how competitive next May is going to be with both Avengers: Infinity War and Solo: A Star Wars Story hitting the scene, the odds don't seem in favor of Extinction being moved to that frame.
While the movie waits in limbo, Extinction's stars are keeping busy. Peña will appear in no less than three other live-action films in 2018, including the Afghanistan war thriller 12 Strong, Disney and Ava DuVernay's classic sci-fi/fantasy novel adaptation A Wrinkle in Time, and the Marvel Studio sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp, where Peña is reprising his comic relief role as Luis from the first Ant-Man adventure. Caplan, meanwhile, is currently closing a deal to play the female lead in X-Men spinoff Gambit (which begins production next year) and Colter recently completed filming Luke Cage season 2, ahead of the season's expected premiere in 2018.
With an intriguing premise and talented cast, Extinction is the sort of original sci-fi offering that could attract a crowd through word of mouth. However, the film's previous release date would have required it to battle fellow sci-fi thriller God Particle/Cloverfield 3 during its second week at the domestic box office, and then face off with another buzzed-about sci-fi film in the form of Alex Garland's Annihilation, three weeks after that. Extinction might have struggled to breakout at the box office on its old date due to the heavy competition from similar genre fare (to mention nothing of The Death Cure), meaning this date change could turn out to be a blessing.
It's also possible that Extinction was pulled from Universal's release slate because the film went over poorly in test screenings and/or turned out to be something of a mess in its current form. Hopefully, that isn't the case and the film (along with its great cast) will land itself a new and improved release date sometime in the foreseeable future.
Screen Rant will keep you updated on Extinction's status as more information becomes available.