Disney CEO Bob Chapek refuses to confirm the next Marvel Cinematic Universe instalment will make it to cinemas as its release date draws closer.

The last we heard from Disney boss Bob Chapek regarding the release of Marvel Studio’s Black Widow, he was reasserting that Disney was committed to an exclusive theatrical release for the film, whilst admitting that the thinking behind this approach was very much open to change. Fast forward five weeks and Chapek’s messaging has shifted slightly, as he spoke publicly at the reopening announcement for Disneyland.

Refusing to confirm that the film would receive an exclusive theatrical run, Chapek instead said “our situation and our conditions change. Just a few weeks ago, theatres in New York and Los Angeles weren’t even open. Now, all of a sudden they’re open, so we’re waiting to see how prospective theatregoers respond to these re-openings. We’re going to remain flexible. We’ll make the call probably at the last minute in terms of how these films come to market, whether it’s Black Widow or any other title”.

Chapek went on to assert that the company’s decision regarding Black Widow would be driven by the progress made by the world recovering from the pandemic.

“We love the theatrical window. We think it’s important for building our franchises. At the same time, we don’t think it’s the only way to do it. … We’ll see what happens over the next couple of months. So much is changing, it’s such a dynamic environment. It’s really hard to predict what’s going to happen with consumer behaviour in the next month as it comes to re-emergence back into the world of normal. We’ll be watching the call carefully and make the call when we have to”.

Of course, what Chapek isn’t saying here is as important as what he is saying. Disney’s alternative exhibition method, its streaming platform, Disney+, is a more than viable alternative or co-release option, especially given the boost in subscribers that a release of this calibre would bring to the service. With the platform’s subscriber numbers already far higher than projected, Disney might be sorely tempted to push the film in this direction as a ‘premier access’ to further boost numbers.

Whatever happens, we’ll be sure to let you know right here.

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