Disney Refuses to Budge on BLACK WIDOW Theatrical Release
By Movieguide® Staff
Disney refuses to budge on its planned theatrical release for Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie BLACK WIDOW. The movie is still set to hit theaters, and only theaters, on May 7 of this year.
BLACK WIDOW would be Disney’s first major theatrical release in more than a year after the mammoth media giant moved almost all of its projects, including MULAN and SOUL, to the streaming service Disney+.
In addition, BLACK WIDOW would be one of the first major blockbusters to hit theaters exclusively after TENET bombed in Fall 2020.
However, “we’ll be watching to see the reopening of theaters and consumer sentiment in terms of going back to theater,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said.
Meanwhile, Disney plans to roll out another major project, RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON, for a premium on Disney+ like MULAN.
While Disney is down 22% in revenue compared to the previous year, Disney+ is proving to be the company’s cash cow.
The company continues to explore a hybrid model on how they will release projects, and much of that will be dictated by consumers, Chapek said.
“Some films we will take theatrically. Some films we will take to Disney Premiere Access. And in some cases, we will take it directly to service [Disney Plus],” Chapek said. “It’s really about flexibility. We’re going to steer our decision making over time given [the needs] of our subscriber base.”
Disney+ now reports 95 million subscribers for the streaming service.
Even if theaters reopened, would viewers flock to the cinemas or would they opt to watch something from their own home?
Disney’s steadfast commitment to theaters stands in stark contrast to other studios like Warner Bros., who opted to put their entire 2021 slate in theaters and on their streaming service HBO Max on the same day.
At this point, though, consumers wield significant power over the entertainment industry. If consumers flock to theaters, more studios will feel confident in theatrical runs. As Movieguide has been saying for years, the studios follow the money.
However, if consumers abandon theaters, the future of cinemas looks bleak as streaming platforms could become the king of movie production and distribution.