The moment major film studios took down the premiere dates for their many blockbusters from summer of last year, it became clear that the year 2020 was given over to just trying to survive from the COVID pandemic. True, some of those movies were slotted into release schedules for 2021 – this year now – but others were left with no recourse but to give their productions to streaming services. Warner Bros. hit on the idea of simultaneously releasing their films on cinemas on HBO Max, which due to many countries still keeping theaters closed, meant the movies were streaming exclusives anyway. Disney has tried not to follow suit, but ultimately caved.
By that we mean that Disney is giving their delayed film releases from 2020 a “simultaneous” theater and streaming release on Disney+. Among these movies is the MCU film “Black Widow” starring Scarlett Johansson. As told by The Washington Post, the House of Mouse on Tuesday, March 23, bumped off several scheduled film releases by a month or two including Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow.” From its May 7 tentative date it is now on July 9, and will go streaming on Disney+ for Premier access subscribers at the same time.
What this means is that, despite how fast COVID vaccines are being administered to people around the world right now, there is simply not enough immunity going around that opening cinemas by midyear is feasible without another spike in new cases of infection. With the reshuffle of “Black Widow” to July, the other MCU film supposed to premiere then, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” is now due on September instead, while “Eternals” so far has remained “safe” in a November premiere slot.
Other Disney films this year are now bidding theaters goodbye and will be on Disney+ instead. The “Cruella” spinoff prequel of “101 Dalmatians” with Emma Stone in the title role is one, as is a new Pixar animation, “Luca.” While US cinemas may brave the reopening as early as May, the fact that other markets in Europe and Asia are still in lockdown for such public viewing places means Disney and other studios are not yet confident in good box-office returns. In fact, the media giant may be considering re-prioritizing new content releases for Disney+ streaming, leaving cinema owners, chains and audiences in the lurch. As long as the pandemic is around, streaming becomes the more viable option for producers.
Image from The Verge