Walt Disney Studios announced release date shifts for many of their tentpole releases, which includes two of Summer 2021’s biggest movies, Black Widow and Cruella. The highly-anticipated Marvel film, directed by Cate Shortland and starring Scarlett Johansson, will now debut in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access on July 9th, instead of May 7th. Cruella, on the other hand, will keep its release date of May 28th, but will also debut on Disney+ with Premier Access, alongside a traditional theatrical release. In other news, Pixar’s Luca will debut exclusively on Disney+ with no additional fee, on June 18th, just like Pixar’s last film, Soul.
Disney has also announced a release shift for five other theatrical releases, including Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which is now releasing on September 3rd, exclusively in theaters. Other movies include Free Guy (now releasing on August 13th), The King’s Man (now releasing on December 22nd), Deep Water (now releasing on January 14th, 2022), and Death on the Nile (now releasing February 11th, 2022). All of these movies are slated to release exclusively in theaters.
In a press statement, the chairman of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution (DMED) Kareem Daniel explained that “today’s 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 for the global pandemic, we will continue to employ the best options to deliver The Walt Disney Company’s unparalleled storytelling to families around the world.”
Two weeks ago, during the annual meeting of shareholders, Disney CEO Bob Chapek was reaffirming an exclusive theatrical release for Black Widow, and now the film is being released day-and-date on streaming and in theaters, which is a sign that the entertainment industry isn’t entirely ready on relaunching a tentpole blockbuster exclusively in theaters, even with vaccination rates accelerating. It’ll be a long road to recovery before studios are confident enough to release a blockbuster exclusively in theaters, which could potentially be Shang-Chi if tentpole films keep getting delayed every two weeks. We will see, however, how the situation evolves and which tentpole film will be the first to exclusively welcome back audiences to theaters hopefully soon!