Alright, people, the announcement many have been anticipating is coming true as Disney formally announces that Black Widow will premiere on Disney+ simultaneously with a theatrical release July 9th. This news comes with shifts for 6 other Disney features that shake up the landscape for box office and streaming schedules in 2021.
After Kevin Feige adamantly spoke against a streaming release for Black Widow, it appears attitudes have changed. Despite vaccines rolling out globally, the slowly accelerating timeline in the United States for theaters to regain full-strength operations has necessitated the House of Mouse to reassess things.
Black Widow, delayed for almost a full year, will follow the Premier Access model and cost $30 upon release on Disney+. Cruella will open May 28th while Black Widow slides to July 9th. This also means Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will move out of the July window and into September where it is expected to have a traditional theatrical debut.
Pixar's Luca will forgo a theatrical release and debut solely on Disney+ much like Soul did in December. To be clear, Disney will not charge Disney+ subscribers a premium fee to enjoy Luca. Meanwhile, 20th Century Studios offerings including Free Guy (August 13), The King's Man (December 22), Deep Water (January 14, 2022), and Death on the Nile (February 11, 2022) have all shifted as well.
Kareem Daniel, the chairman of Disney Media and Entertainment distribution, says the announcement “reflects our focus on providing consumer choice and serving the evolving preferences of audiences.”
“By leveraging a flexible distribution strategy in a dynamic marketplace that is beginning to recover from the global pandemic, we will continue to employ the best options to deliver The Walt Disney Company’s unparalleled storytelling to fans and families around the world,” he added.
With theaters in Los Angeles and New York City slowly reopening, theater owners are beginning to see the light at the end of Covid tunnel. That said, capacity is being capped at 25% (or 100 people per auditorium in L.A. and 50 per auditorium in NYC). While that's not ideal, it's a welcomed start to getting cinemas back on track. I don't imagine movie houses will be too thrilled about Disney's most recent announcement, but the fact remains that we're still in the throes of a pandemic. For example, vaccinations have yet to be distributed en masse in places like Canada, and it could be months before the process reaches the majority of citizens. Personally, I'm not ready to return to theaters and am thrilled to hear that Disney is finally moving the aforementioned films to their streaming service. I realize that not everyone will feel that way, but my immunocompromised ass isn't taking any chances. I've got $30 with Black Widow's name on it, and am more than happy to pony up.
How about you? Will you be seeing Black Widow on the big screen or will you opt to watch it on Disney+? Sound off in the comments below.