Black Widow Theatrical Release

Even though the coronavirus pandemic is started to subside as the COVID-19 vaccine is being more widely distributed, audiences aren’t flocking back to movie theaters in great numbers just yet. That’s why studios are still delaying some movies originally slated to arrive this spring. But when it comes to Disney’s upcoming theatrical releases, CEO Bob Chapek says the studio will be flexible with their strategy, and for movies like the upcoming Black Widow, it may come down to a “last minute” decision.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently sat down with Bloomberg after the company announced the reopening of Disneyland on April 30 with limited capacity and enhanced health and safety restrictions in place. Their conversation eventually turned to their approach to theatrical releases and direct-to-streaming possibilities, and they’re not painting themselves into a corner one way or the other. Chapek said:

“Flexibility is something that we’ve been working against, and our situations and our conditions change. I mean, just a few weeks ago theaters in New York and Los Angeles weren’t even open, and now all of a sudden they’re open. So we’re waiting to see exactly how guests respond, prospective theater-goers respond, to these re-openings. And we’re going to remain flexible. We’re going to make the call essentially, probably, at the last minute in terms of how these films come to market – whether it’s Black Widow or any other title.”

This is something that Disney has already been employing since late last year. The studio remains dedicated to a theatrical release until it’s deemed that theaters are not yet the safest option for audiences to experience a given movie. But what exactly constitutes a “last minute” decision?

When Pixar chose to put Soul on Disney+, they announced it in the beginning of October, two and a half months before it arrived at Christmas. For Raya and the Last Dragon, the decision was made in early December, three months before it would hit the streaming service through Premier Access (which requires an extra fee on top of the subscription cost). However, now that we’re heading into a time where more people are being vaccinated, Disney seems to be waiting a little longer to get a proper view of the potential market before making a decision about theatrical releases.

As of now, Black Widow is currently still slated for a release in theaters on May 7, less than two months away. Disney and Marvel Studios have held firm that they don’t want the movie going directly to streaming, but perhaps there’s a chance that they’ll try the Premier Access route for the movie so those who are willing and safely able to see it in theaters can make the decision for themselves. That will likely hurt the bottom dollar when it comes to box office, but these are the times we live in right now. The same consideration is probably being made for Cruella, which has a release date set for May 28, but hasn’t been specified whether that’s in theaters or on Disney+ (or maybe both).

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