The fate of the long-delayed MCU movie Black Widow has finally been confirmed, with cinema exhibitors’ fears realised.
After months of speculation regarding which way Disney would go with the next instalment of its Marvel Cinematic Universe saga, Disney has confirmed that the film, along with the upcoming Cruella, will debut simultaneously on their streaming platform, Disney+ as well as in cinemas.
Both films will be available as part of Disney’s Premier Access offer, meaning they’ll likely cost around $30/£20 on top of a normal Disney+ subscription.
The signs of this happening have been on the horizon for a few days, with Disney CEO Bob Chapek last week refusing to confirm that Black Widow would even get a theatrical release at all, stating it would be a ‘last minute call.’
This marked a change in rhetoric from last month where Chapek asserted that the film remained as an exclusive theatrical release ‘for now.’
The move continues the trend of experimentation for Disney as it continues to trial different films and price points to best determine the model that earns it the most revenue and subscribers.
Black Widow‘s release on the platform without a period of theatrical exclusivity will mark the highest profile release on the service yet, and it’s easy to sense that Disney have decided to make this call for the film’s new release date of June, when cinemas will presumably be open at a reduced capacity.
This in in turn will give it a model moving forwards, for future tentpole releases, when it can look to maximise the dual benefits of a PVoD release with maximum cinema attendance on top. Using a top-tier title like Black Widow will give the company the kind of test run it needs to really consider dual day and date releases as a serious proposition.
Cinema exhibitors will rightly be frustrated with this decision. Cineworld in the US specifically as the cinema chain had timed the reopening of its business to coincide with the release of a highly-anticipated film that audiences can now enjoy in the comfort of their own home.
The impact of this decision could be felt for a long time to come and sits in stark contrast to Warner Bros moving away from its own dual day and date strategy in 2022 as it has recently signed theatrical exclusivity deals with Cineworld in the US and the UK, pulling back from its 2021 strategy.
Black Widow has been pushed back a month to July then, which means the next MCU film, Shang-Chi has also been pushed back three months to September. We’ll bring you more on this story as we hear it.
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