Disney is modifying its release strategy again for the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe entry “Black Widow.” The film will open in theaters on July 9, but it will also launch on the studio’s streaming platform Disney+ on the same day. Disney has launched recent tentpoles “Soul,” “Raya and the Last Dragon,” and “Mulan,” in similar fashion, with the latter two falling under the “Premier Access” banner where it costs an additional $29.99 to purchase the new release. “Black Widow” will also fall under Premier Access. The MCU tentpole was originally set to open in May 2020 before the pandemic pushed it first to November 6, 2020 and then to May 7, 2021.
“Black Widow” stars Scarlett Johansson as the title’s S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and savvy KGB assassin. The “Black Widow” script, penned by Eric Pearson, is set after the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and finds Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow on the lam and heading to Russia to confront her past. This time, she’s joined by indie sensation and “Little Women” Academy Award nominee Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova. The cast also includes Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, and more. Prior to “Black Widow,” filmmaker Cate Shortland helmed the films “Berlin Syndrome” and “Lore,” among other internationally acclaimed features. “Black Widow” is written by Eric Pearson, who also co-wrote the upcoming “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
The release change for “Black Widow” falls as major studios continue to push out their releases either in theaters, on PVOD platforms, or a combination of both. Warner Bros. made a strong statement back in early December of last year when it announced that all of its 2021 titles — including major movies like “Dune,” “The Matrix 4,” “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and “The Suicide Squad” — would drop day and date on rookie streaming platform HBO Max and in whatever theaters are available. On March 23, WB did announce that its 2022 slate would receive a 45-day window with Regal Cinemas, suggesting a recommitment to theatrical.
In addition to “Black Widow,” Disney will launch the Emma Stone-starring “Cruella” in theaters and on Disney+ via Premier Access on on Friday, May 28. Disney and Pixar’s “Luca,” meanwhile, will stream directly in homes on Disney+ beginning Friday, June 18, similar to how “Soul” was released without any additional charge.
While it remains unclear when exactly theatrical exhibition will come back in full force like the pre-pandemic days, movie theaters in New York City and Los Angeles have slowly been coming back to life over the last few weeks.
Theatrical release dates also shifted for several additional upcoming films. New release dates include:
– “Free Guy” on August 13, 2021
– “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” on September 3, 2021
– “The King’s Man” on December 22, 2021
– “Deep Water” on January 14, 2022
– “Death on the Nile” on February 11, 2022