The semi-autobiographical film, directed by Judd Apatow, was only supposed to premiere on video-on-demand services on Friday after previously ditching plans for a theatre release as a result of the coronavirus shutdown.
However, bosses at a number of drive-in venues, who have been welcoming film fans in their cars to view mostly older movies, began selling tickets for "The King of Staten Island" after receiving screening bookings from officials at Universal Studios.
But the events were quickly pulled, much to theatre owners' annoyance.
"There was no explanation (from Universal). They changed their mind," grumbled one venue owner to Variety.com, while another complained, "This caused a considerable amount of ill will with customers who bought tickets online showing up for the Thursday 7pm show."
Apatow had earlier warned Twitter followers the film would only be available on at-home digital services, and now sources claim the release mistake was the result of an internal misunderstanding at Universal.
" 'The King of Staten Island' was always intended to premiere exclusively on-demand, however, some executives unintentionally booked the film in about 100 theaters," an insider explained.
"When they realized the mistake, the studio went back to theatres and asked them not to play it."
Universal representatives have yet to comment on the blunder.
"The King of Staten Island" is the latest film studio chiefs decided to release to video-on-demand during the coronavirus lockdown, following the April launch of "Trolls World Tour", which proved to be a huge hit for families isolated at home.