After a few delays and scheduling changes due to the pandemic, Marvel Studios has finally released Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings out into the world. The film tells the origin of the heroic Shang-Chi, helping to establish him as one of the newest heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while also telling the story of where he came from. Fans have been understandably excited to see this story come to life, but its release doesn't follow the same structure as Black Widow, the most recent movie from Marvel Studios.
Black Widow was released in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access on the same day, allowing Disney+ subscribers to pay an addition $30 to purchase the movie at home. Films like Cruella and Jungle Cruise stuck to the same format. Shang-Chi, however, is being released exclusively in theaters. The only way to see Marvel's latest is on the big screen, which has fans wondering when exactly they'll be able to catch the film at home on Disney+.
Earlier this year, Disney revealed that it would be shortening the exclusive theatrical window for its movies from 90 days to just 45. This means that any Disney movie can be added to Disney+ just a month-and-a-half after its theatrical debut. That would put Shang-Chi on Disney+ on October 17th.
At this time, Disney hasn't officially come out and said that Shang-Chi will be going directly to Disney+ at the end of that 45 day window. It's going to go to on-demand services first, allowing fans to rent or purchase it before it's free on Disney+. If the VOD premiere date also has to wait for the end of that 45 day window, don't expect to see Shang-Chi on Disney+ right away.
We will get some better insight regarding Shang-Chi's streaming debut in a couple of weeks when we see what Disney does with its only other exclusive theatrical release this year. Free Guy hit theaters about a month before Shang-Chi, so we will get to see how exactly Disney handles Free Guy's streaming options a few weeks before Shang-Chi is made available online. If Free Guy goes straight to Disney+ 45 days after its theatrical debut, you can bet the same thing will happen with Shang-Chi.
The only thing we know for sure is that Shang-Chi will be available at home in exactly 45 days. Whether it's on Disney+ or iTunes remains to be seen.