The buddy action comedy movie My Spy has had its release date pushed back until 2020. The Dave Bautista-starring movie was set to be released next month, and pairs the rising star with Big Little Lies’ Chloe Coleman in her most prominent role yet outside of the excellent drama series.
The plot follows hardened CIA operative JJ, whose wrecking ball tactics don’t mesh with the tact and subtlety required for intelligence work and is given a last chance when sent to surveil a family. His cover is almost immediately blown by the family’s daughter, the snarky and precocious nine-year-old Sophie, who blackmails him into teaching her spycraft so she can stand up for herself to the school bullies who pick on her.
The news of the delay came from Variety, and reported statements declaring the pushed back release should not be taken as indicative of the studio’s lack of faith in the film. My Spy tested “unbelievably well,” according to STX Films boss Adam Fogelson during a CinemaCon presentation in April, and the reason for the delay is rather to space the film’s release from the not-entirely-dissimilar action comedy Stuber, which releases this weekend and stars Bautista as a violent LAPD cop forced to use the help of a timid Uber driver to hunt down a drug trafficker who killed his partner.
Prior to his career as an actor, Bautista was a star of the WWE wresting under the name of, um, Batista. He debuted in 2002 and rose in prominence until he won the World Heavyweight Championship in 2005 at Wrestlemania 21, a title he would go on to win another three times, in addition to winning the WWE Championship twice. After transitioning to acting, he played guest roles in the likes of TV shows Smallville and Chuck, and supporting roles in action films The Scorpion King 3: Battle For Redemption, The Man With the Iron Fists and Riddick, before his casting in Guardians of the Galaxy thrust him onto everyone’s radar and gained him a new legion of fans.
It’s understandable for the studio to want to avoid accidental themed releases, since two structurally or thematically similar films released in quick succession often end up endlessly compared to one another, such as with Dredd and The Raid: Redemption, and can even become conflated in the minds of audiences, such as with White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen. Also, since Stuber is Disney’s first R-rated movie in six years and its reviews have been somewhat less than stellar, it makes sense for the studio to want to distance My Spy from implicit association, and allow their film to be judged on its own after enough time has passed. It’s unlikely to be something they need worry about, as the mix of fighter conditioning and comic timing Batista displayed as Drax the Destroyer is a perfect match for the mixed tonal requirements of My Spy, keeping it exciting but not too serious, while the trailer suggests that Sophie’s influence on JJ starts to crack his gruff exterior, something that Bautista’s natural charisma should have little effort in portraying.