Everything old is new (and lousy) again today, as Deadline reports that Paramount Pictures has done the impossible and managed to leash Clifford The Big Red Dog, pulling the upcoming film from its planned September 17 release date. The reason is a familiar one, and one that we’d all hoped we’d seen the back of by this point: COVID-19 concerns.
Specifically, the film—which stars Jack Whitehall and Darby Camp as the human servitors of the massive scarlet canine, voiced by David Alan Grier—is being pulled from that fall release spot because Paramount is worried about what concerns over the Delta variant of the disease might do to families’ willingness to hit the theaters and spend time with their large red friend. As hospitalizations of children from the disease rise in the U.S., medical experts have warned of the threat that Delta specifically holds for children under 12, who can’t be vaccinated. Given that “children under 12" is also pretty firmly the Clifford demographic, and that Paramount is hoping for this movie to be a theatrical hit (provided people actually feel safe taking their kids to go see it), the decision to punt the movie is pretty understandable.
Still, though: It’s another illustration of the fact that we’re probably not nearly as over the pandemic as people were clearly hoping, especially as large swathes of the population—kids, those for whom the vaccine is medically unsafe, and, y’know, others—continue to go unvaccinated. So far, there’s been no indication that any other studios or films are going to follow suit and start playing kick-the-movie again, and Clifford—which really needs kids, specifically, to come out for it—might end up being something of a special case. But still: If COVID-19 can stymie an entity as seemingly invulnerable, large, and crimson as Clifford, what can the rest of us possibly do?