The coronavirus pandemic is not over yet. That much should be clear if you pay attention to the news and see the rising case counts around the country and the world, largely fueled by the highly contagious delta variant. The variant is of particular concern for the unvaccinated — which, at the moment, includes basically all children under the age of 12, for whom no vaccine is currently approved.

That means that films geared towards children and families could potentially be in trouble until more people, including kids, are vaccinated. Case in point: Paramount Pictures has decided to postpone the release of their Clifford the Big Red Dog movie. The film was originally going to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and then open in theaters on September 17. But now, according to Deadline, that release is off due to fears that families will stay away from theaters because of the variant. They write:

The film is complete, and there’s good early tracking (in the low 90s), however, with families feeling less likely to go to theaters, Paramount is looking for a new U.S. release date. Paramount believes it has a winner with Clifford, but only if kids can safely go to the multiplex.

After almost every major 2020 movie was postponed for months or even a year due to Covid, most of 2021’s releases so far have opened as scheduled. With Covid cases declining around the country in the spring and early summer. the box office got off to a reasonably solid start, even though some of the biggest movies premiered day simultaneously on various streaming services — like Jungle Cruise, which is available on Disney+ right now as well as in theaters. The decision to move Clifford suggests we could be in for another wave of postponements or films skipping theaters entirely. It’s certainly not a promising sign, especially for the makers of children’s films.

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