NEW YORK (AP) — The Walt Disney Co. on Tuesday overhauled its upcoming film release plans, postponing some of its biggest films and shifting Marvel’s “Black Widow,” among other titles, to Disney+ the same time they arrive in theaters.
“Black Widow,” once planned to debut in May 2020, had been set to kick off the summer movie season on May 7. It will instead premiere on July 9. And it will do so simultaneously on the company’s streaming platform for a $30 early-access fee.
For theaters, which are beginning to reopen after punishing months of closure due to the pandemic, the announcement was a blow to hopes of an imminent recovery. While bigger and bigger films have turned to stream and premium-on-demand in recent months, Marvel movies are Hollywood’s most bankable box-office behemoths.
Disney will instead launch its summer with “Cruella” on its previously scheduled date, May 28. The “101 Dalmatians” spinoff with Emma Stone will also premiere in both theaters and on Disney+ for $30 — the same hybrid approach the studio took with the recent release of “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
Disney has not announced viewing data on “Raya and the Last Dragon” but on Tuesday called its performance “successful.”
“Today’s announcement reflects our focus on providing consumer choice and serving the evolving preferences of audiences,” said Kareem Daniel, Disney’s distribution chief. “By leveraging a flexible distribution strategy in a dynamic marketplace that is beginning to recover from the global pandemic, we will continue to employ the best options to deliver The Walt Disney Company’s unparalleled storytelling to fans and families around the world.”