Unlike the upcoming Black Widow, which will debut in theaters and for Premium Access on Disney+ this summer, Marvel Studios' Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be a theatrical exclusive. The news was confirmed today during Disney's quarterly earnings call with CEO Bob Chapek confirming that both Shang-Chi and the Ryan Reynolds' starring Free Guy will have a 45-day exclusive theatrical window upon their release. Chapek confirmed that these decisions, a shift away from other release plans announced by Disney for their other summer 2021 releases, was due to film fans being more comfortable attending movie theaters.
"Regardless of where they originate, all of our films and episodic series will end up as part of the robust library of content on our direct-to-consumer platforms," Chapek said. It's unclear if this 45 day exclusive window will see the two films be released on VOD after the 45 days have concluded or if they will then be released on Disney+ or Hulu once it's over. Chapek added, "Flexibility is the key component of our distribution strategy, and we have outlined three approaches for distributing our films. Releases in Theatres with the simultaneous offering via Disney+ Premiere Access, release straight to Disney+, and traditional exclusive theatrical releases." Shang-Chi and Free Guy will fit the third strategy.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is currently set for release on September 3rd with Free Guy arriving prior on August 13. The new Marvel movie will see Simu Liu make his feature film debut as the comic book hero, billed as the "Master of Kung-Fu" in Marvel comics. The film also marks yet another new film from the studio that is part of their larger plans to have a more diverse slate. Speaking in an interview last year, Marvel President Kevin Feige opened up about this and how some of their most recent successes helped them escalate these plans.
"Every time we do a movie, we hope it's going to succeed so that we can make another movie. That's always the idea," the Chief Creative Officer of Marvel said. "And with those two films in particular, Black Panther and Captain Marvel, we wanted to keep showcasing heroes from the comics that represent the world that goes to see our movies. So our intention was always to continue to do that."
Liu leads the cast as the titular hero with his co-stars in the film including Tony Leung as Wenwu, Awkwafina as Shang-Chi's friend Katy, Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Nan, as well as fellow MCU newcomers Fala Chen, Meng'er Zhang, Florian Munteanu, and Ronny Chieng.