Pop Culture

Delta Variant Stops Clifford the Big Red Dog’s Theatrical Release

The kiddie pic goes back to the pound to wait out this phase of the pandemic. 

Paramount Pictures has put a leash on Clifford the Big Red Dog’s theatrical release, originally planned for September 17. The reason, as reported by Deadline, is concern over the delta variant of the coronavirus and “families feeling less likely to go to theaters.” In best in show, Clifford wins the unfortunate title of being the first major entertainment cancellation due to the latest round of the ongoing public health crisis.

The movie, based on a children’s book series dating back to 1963, had anticipatory box office buzz, according to Deadline, and was set to have a gala premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this September. It is unknown how Paramount’s decision will impact that event now.

This first big screen, live-action appearance by Clifford (who has had numerous television, cartoon, and even video game iterations) was directed by Walt Becker (of Old Dogs and Wild Hogs fame), and co-stars Jack Whitehall, Darby Camp, Russell Wong, Sienna Guillory, Tony Hale, Kenan Thompson, and John Cleese. One could argue that its trailer debut in mid-June over-indexed in online hubbub (in a good way) when first glimpses showed that Clifford’s historically ambiguous size was now firm at 10 feet, and that he lived in Manhattan.

Questions now turn from “how the heck do they clean up after him?” to the more serious issue of, “is Clifford a canine in a coal mine?” The film industry, not to mention the live music business, and travel, tourism, and society in general, has decisions to make regarding future shutdowns.

The delta variant is “as contagious as chickenpox,” according to a report by the New York Times on an internal document obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bloomberg has reported 111,748 vaccine breakthrough cases across 35 U.S. states through the end of July. NBC collected data from 38 states and found “at least 125,000” breakthrough incidents, with 1,400 of those cases ending in death.

Before you lock yourself in the basement, NBC also crunched numbers to show that “less than 0.08 percent” of people fully vaccinated since January have tested positive for Covid. A former advisor to President Joe Biden on Covid-related issues said that 98 to 99 percent of all Covid deaths remain among the unvaccinated, according to NBC. And on CBS’s Face The Nation, former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said that while the variant is “more transmissible,” it is “not more likely to be permeable through a mask,” and recommended N95 and KN95 masks.

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