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‘Black Widow’ still expected to be released in theaters, Disney CEO says

Disney still plans to release the next Marvel film in theaters

This image released by Disney/Marvel Studios shows Scarlett Johansson in a scene from “Black Widow,” which is scheduled to be released in July.
This image released by Disney/Marvel Studios shows Scarlett Johansson in a scene from “Black Widow,” which is scheduled to be released May 7.
Marvel Studios, Disney via Associated Press

Disney CEO Bob Chapek said Thursday that “Black Widow” is still scheduled to be released in movie theaters despite continued speculation it will be released on Disney+ ahead of time.

What’s happening

“Black Widow” has a release date of May 7. And Chapek said that people can still expect the film to be released that day in theaters, according to Variety.

  • “We are still intending it to be a theatrical release,” Chapek said.

Chapek did not say whether or not the film will be delayed because of the pandemic, especially if movie theaters remained closed, Variety reports.

  • “We’re going to be watching very carefully the reopening of theaters and consumer sentiment on going back to theaters,” he said, according to Variety.

Context

“Black Widow” was meant to be released on May 1, 2020. But the coronavirus pandemic forced movie theaters to close across the country. So Disney delayed the release of the film, pushing it until Nov. 6, 2020. The film was moved again because COVID-19, clearly, didn’t go away. The film received a final release date for May 7.

Since its original delay, fans have been wondering whether the film will be released on Disney+ through the Premier Access program — where you have to pay a little extra to watch the film on Disney+. But it’s unclear whether that will happen.

Marvel chief creative officer Kevin Feige told Deadline the film could debut on Disney+ streaming instead of movie theaters.

“If I had a crystal ball, I’d look into it and tell you. I don’t. All I can tell you is that for the past three years since Bob Iger brought me into his office and talked about a streaming platform that would become Disney+ and asked us to start working on programs for it. Our long lead plan was to have the MCU and the storytelling woven between weekly episodic big swings on Disney+ and into the feature big swings in theaters. It’s my great hope that that continues. Don’t ask me week by week what is going to happen in this world, I have no idea and don’t want to guess. Everything we’ve done at Marvel Studios has been based in “OK, if everything goes perfectly, here’s what we’d like to do.” And until this past year, things have gone remarkably well. And it’s my hope that the world gets back on track and we all get back into theaters, and that people will see and experience week by week for the low monthly fee of Disney+ of what we’re bringing there, and then be excited to get together with people again in real life and sit with strangers and share an experience on the big screen.”

Another delay?

As I wrote for the Deseret News, there was some suggestion that “Black Widow” may be delayed again because of the coronavirus pandemic, too.

Variety reported that fewer crowds at movie theaters might be a reason to delay the project again.

“As for ‘Black Widow’, expect the 2020 delay treatment should the theater situation not improve over the spring. Since it’s the first 2020s film from the franchise that propelled the studio to a now fictional-seeming $11 billion global gross in 2019, another delay before a last-ditch Disney+ release is more likely to occur.”