Originally, Disney had a plan to launch Artemis Fowl in theaters in late May. The film would've rounded out a summer launch during th big month at the movies, dropping in Black Widow's fourth weekend, on the heels of Mulan coming before both titles. However, a global pandemic forced movie theaters to temporarily close their doors and none of the titles have yet been released. Black Widow was pushed back to November and Mulan is currently scheduled for July. Artemis Fowl, though, is headed straight to Disney+ for viewing in the safety, comfort, and timing available at the viewer's discretion. The shift from theatrical release to a streaming debut is hardly uncommon in 2020 and is serving as a great learning experience for movie studios and filmmakers who may face such decisions with other titles in the future.
For Artemis Fowl director Kenneth Branagh, shifting the film from movie theaters to a Disney+ release does not exactly seem surprising given the state of pandemic facing the world. Going forward, he looks forward to both theaters and streaming being options for works such as this.
"I think nobody's sure," Branagh said in an interview with ComicBook.com ahead of the release of Artemis Fowl. "I think it's really good to hear what you're saying, that both things can exist, the right movie in the right venue." Universal Studios has learned to love the straight-to-on-demand approach, seeing great success with its Trolls: World Tour movie, for example. Artemis Fowl, however, will be available to all Disney+ subscribers permanently and there will be no one time rental fee for the film which might launch a new franchise.
"This feels like Artemis Fowl on Disney+, at this time, feels like a great natural home," Branagh says. "I'm keen, for all sorts of reasons, to be, hopefully, going to the movies in July to see Tenet, to see Mulan, to see the movies that are really designed for a big screen experience. I'm a big, big movie goer and so I miss it enormously. Because of the uncertainty about how things will happen, in terms of production, the production of new content is under significant challenge right now, so in terms of both content and the quantity at which it can be produced, over what period of time in which we're allowed to be making things."
Movie theaters in California are expected to begin opening up as soon as this week.
"The jury is still out on exactly how it's going to happen, but my own feeling is that we want both, we've really appreciated what's been in our living rooms these last few months, but I think, increasingly, and certainly as the world, I hope, hope, hope gets safer, people will want to go out and see things in the cinema," the director says. "Maybe there'll be a greater distinction between the two and some projects will find more clearly their homes, in either place, but I hope both thrive."
Branagh's Artemis Fowl is available on Disney+ on June 12.