As moviegoing slowly begins to rebound in the U.S., it ‘Black Widow,’ ‘Cruella’ to Debut on Disney Plus and in Theaters as Disney Shifts Dates for Seven Films Hollywood studios aren’t yet ready to release their biggest blockbuster hopefuls on the big screen.
All that is to say Disney has massively overhauled its upcoming slate and amended release plans for “Bla4ck Widow,” Emma Stone’s “Cruella,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Pixar’s “Luca” and several others.
Notably, “Black Widow” and “Cruella” will now premiere on Disney Plus at the same time they open in theaters. “Cruella” is arriving as scheduled on May 28, while “Black Widow” has been pushed back two months and will debut on July 9 instead of May 7. Both titles will be offered on Premier Access.
“Black Widow’s” move means that Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which was previously set for early July, was bumped back to Sept. 3. It’s expected to have a traditional theatrical release.
“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 said.
In the last 12 months, studios have made some bold moves to compensate for the near closure of indoor movie theaters. Perhaps the most notable has been the sledgehammer that was taken to the theatrical window, which is the industry term for the amount of time that new movies play exclusively in theaters. It was traditionally about 90 days, and cinema chains had long resisted studio’s attempts to shorten that timeframe.
But the pandemic has accelerated those changes, with Warner Bros. releasing its entire 2021 theatrical slate on HBO Max on the same day the films launch in theaters. Starting next year, the studio will keep its movies in theaters for 45 days ahead of putting them on home entertainment.
Paramount similarly plans to keep its new releases on the big screen for 45 days before moving them to the newly relaunched Paramount Plus streaming service. Meanwhile, Universal has forged its own model that enables the studio to offer its films on premium video-on-demand platforms after 17 days in theaters. In return, theater chains are getting a cut of the digital profits.