The world of blockbuster movies seems to be changing on a regular basis, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of the Delta variant have led to many films having to change or shift their release strategy. That topic has particularly courted conversation with regards to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as this year has already seen Disney and Marvel Studios try out multiple release strategies for its 2021 MCU films, including releasing Black Widow both in theaters and on Disney+, and releasing the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings exclusively in theaters for a 45-day window. With a number of MCU films still on the horizon, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige talked about the future of the MCU's release strategies in a red carpet interview with Variety. When it comes to Marvel's Eternals, which is currently scheduled to be released in theaters in November, Feige indicated that "we will see."
"I think a theater would be my preference and [Eternals director] Chloe [Zhao's] preference," Feige explained. "We will see where we go with it."
Will fans be watching #Eternals at home or at the theaters? "I think a theater would be my preference and Chloe [Zhao]'s preference. We will see where we go with it," says Kevin Feige. https://t.co/Tgq3Td0b9l pic.twitter.com/GyCIz04kjs— Variety (@Variety) August 17, 2021
In terms of the larger conversation about hybrid releases, Feige argued that the hybrid release "can also be good" and that "you want customers to have a choice", even though that choice isn't in place for Shang-Chi.
"I love the movies. I love going to the movies," Feige added. "I love making movies for people to see in a shared environment in a theater together. To us, that's what it's about. The hybrid release can also be good — you want customers to have a choice. In this case, the choice is in theaters for 45 days. Here's what I know: there's an opening weekend, and you can go see a movie."
While we'll have to wait and see exactly what release strategy Eternals decides to take — especially as the Delta variant continues to spread and other family movies continue to postpone or do away with a theatrical release entirely — Feige's comments are particularly interesting amid the recent conversation around MCU films. For one thing, there was the recent lawsuit from Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson, which alleged that Disney had breached her contract with regards to traditional box office bonuses. There also were comments made by Disney CEO Bob Chapek at the company's quarterly earnings call, referring to the 45-day exclusive theatrical window of Shang-Chi as an "interesting experiment." That qualifier drew chatter online from fans, and even Shang-Chi star Simu Liu, who took to Twitter to blast the comments and call the film a "celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year."
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set to be released exclusively in theaters on September 3rd. Marvel's Eternals is currently scheduled to be released on November 5th.