Disney Delays ‘Black Widow’ Debut
Walt Disney Co on Tuesday delayed the worldwide release of Marvel Studios film “Black Widow” by two months until July and said it would offer the movie simultaneously in theaters and for a fee on the Disney+ streaming service.
Disney, which is increasingly prioritising streaming and has experimented with different release models during the pandemic, said the move reflects “the evolving preferences of audiences” in a market “that is beginning to recover from the global pandemic.”
The distribution chairman Kareem Daniel in a statement said:
We will continue to employ the best options to deliver The Walt Disney Company’s unparalleled storytelling to fans and families around the world.
The news comes as a blow to theater chains that have absorbed heavy losses during a year of unprecedented closures that has also seen the traditional “window” in which new releases can only be seen on the big screen.
Pixar’s Italy-inspired animation “Luca” will now only appear on Disney+, from June 18, while live-action “Cruella” featuring Emma Stone will appear on big and small screens from May 28, the company said.
“Black Widow” was originally due for release in May 2020, before Covid struck. Its latest delay meant another film in the record-breaking Marvel franchise, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, has itself been postponed to September.
The “domino effect” is likely to affect major releases from other Hollywood studios that had been eyeing lucrative summer slots.
Despite the Los Angeles theater revival, this weekend industry watcher Exhibitor Relations warned the “re-opening is still slow going at the box office.”
North America’s top-ranking film, Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon”, grossed just $5.1 million at almost 2,300 screens.
Warner Bros had angered theater operators and prominent Hollywood filmmakers by announcing all films this year would be available from day one on its own HBO Max streaming service.