'Peter Rabbit 2' release postponed over coronavirus spread

Ben Arnold
Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki), Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Benjamin (Colin Moody), Peter Rabbit (James Corden) and Cottontail (Amy Horn) in Columbia Pictures' PETER RABBIT™ 2: THE RUNAWAY.

The release of the forthcoming sequel Peter Rabbit 2 has been postponed in the wake of increasing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

Peter Rabbit 2 had been set to hit UK and European cinemas on 27 March, and open in the US on 3 April. Instead, Sony said the sequel to 2018's Peter Rabbit will launch on 7 August.

The sequel features James Corden once again voicing the mischievous rabbit, adapted loosely from the series of children's books by Beatrix Potter.

The first movie, which also featured the voices of Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley, Elizabeth Debicki and the singer Sia – as well as live-action performances from Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne and Sam Neill – was a hit for the studio, making more than $350 million worldwide amid solid, if mixed, reviews.

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However, it ran into controversy over a scene in which Gleeson's character Thomas McGregor suffers an anaphylactic episode after being purposely pelted with blackberries by Peter Rabbit, despite it being known his character has an allergy to them.

The studio was slated for 'allergy bullying', and later issued a full apology.

The sequel features many of the same voice actors, plus David Oyelowo and Lennie James.

Daniel Craig in No Time To Die (Credit: MGM/Universal)

It's the second blockbuster pushed back due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, following news that the new Bond movie No Time To Die would be moved from 2 April to November.

The move signals the film business entering a turbulent period, with as much as £1.5 billion having been wiped off the Chinese box office already, after it shuttered cinemas across the country to discourage large groups of people meeting in enclosed spaces.

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After a similar lockdown in Italy, its box office has also slumped, with more turmoil likely to follow in the coming weeks.

France and Slovakia are also following suit in shutting down cinemas.