WWII Thriller 'Operation Mincemeat' Delayed by COVID

Matthew Macfadyen Colin Firth Johnny Flynn Operation Mincemeat
Matthew Macfadyen, Colin Firth and Johnny Flynn star in the WWII thriller "Operation Mincemeat." (Warner Bros.)

Just when things seemed to be back on track in movie theaters, the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in Europe has delayed the January 2022 release of what looks to be an awesome World War II thriller.

"Operation Mincemeat" chronicles a real-life espionage plot designed to convince the Germans that the Allies were not going to invade Sicily in 1943 in the days before the Allies actually invaded Sicily.

Intelligence officers devised an outrageous plan that involved forged documents and a dead body washed up on the shores of Spain. They had reason to believe that Spanish authorities would share anything they discovered on the body with their German allies. In spite of very legitimate doubts and long odds, the plan worked.

The movie stars Colin Firth (Oscar winner for "The King's Speech") as naval intelligence officer Ewen Montagu, the man who devised the plan and sold it to British intelligence. The decision went all the way up the chain of command to Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, the Allied commander for the Sicily invasion.

The movie was directed by John Madden, best known for directing "Shakespeare in Love," the movie that upset "Saving Private Ryan" for a Best Picture Oscar. This movie, based on historian Ben Macintyre's 2010 book "Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory," looks good enough that it might help make up for that low point in movie history.

The rest of the cast is loaded with high-profile U.K. actors like Matthew Macfadyen ("Succession"), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy in the "Harry Potter" movies), Kelly Macdonald ("Boardwalk Empire"), Mark Gatiss ("Sherlock"), Penelope Wilton ("Downton Abbey") and Johnny Flynn (as future 007 creator Ian Fleming!).

The movie was scheduled for release in the U.K. on Jan. 14, 2022, but has now been pushed back to April 22, 2022. The producers didn't specifically blame the pandemic, but Europe is on the verge of widespread shutdowns.

Did COVID have a net-negative impact on the box office for movies that plowed ahead with a 2021 release? The James Bond movie "No Time to Die" and the Fast & Furious sequel "F9" certainly didn't perform up to pre-pandemic expectations, but guess what? They're out in the world and doing great on home video.

Are we looking at another round of theatrical cancellations and delays next year? What happens to "The Batman" (due March 4)? Could "Top Gun: Maverick" (due May 27) find itself delayed for what would seem like the 250th time?

We'll keep our eyes open and hope everything sorts itself out and we get to see "Operation Mincemeat" here in the United States early next summer. In the meantime, tell your unvaxxed friends and relatives to please get the shot for Bruce Wayne and Capt. Pete Mitchell. They need our help.

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