And so it begins. Though the calendar now reads 2021, movie delays are still very much a thing of the present, and the latest onslaught of theatrical delays have already started. Morbius kicked things off last week, and then MGM's delay of No Time to Die only exacerbated the situation. Now, virtually every studio in Hollywood has started to delay their movies again, pushing them well out of the spring into later in the year. Even Sony opted to delay Morbius a second time in one week, pushing the film from its October 8th date to January 2022.
Sooner or later, the news seems inevitable — Marvel Studios will have a major decision to make on Black Widow, the next film from Marvel Studios on the company's release docket. In fact, it's all but guaranteed Walt Disney Studios execs like Alan Bergman and Alan Horn have already talked to Disney chief Bob Chapek and his team about it.
But enough is enough — it's time to put the Scarlett Johansson vehicle on Disney+ as another day-and-date release with its current theatrical date.
The streamer has already had one test with Mulan, a release Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said the studio was "very pleased" with. At the time, subscribers of Disney+ could get access to the feature for $29.99, essentially turning it into a pay-per-view event you could keep until it was made available on the service for free.
Before too long, Disney+ will have another Premier Access offering with Pixar's Raya and the Last Dragon.
If the House of Mouse was comfortable-enough with Mulan, and should Raya and the Last Dragon perform admirably, it stands to reason Black Widow would settle in above most expectations the company has, what with its Marvel Studios branding and all. That's an assumption, sure — but the Kevin Feige-led outfit has proved time and time again it's built a brand consumers trust.
There are probably a number of reasons Disney hasn't made the move official yet. Like Warner Brothers had to do with its partners and filmmakers, there's enough reason to believe there are some contract hold-ups with the talent involved in the production, especially when it comes to an A-lister like Johansson.
Then there's the situation with movie theaters — one that won't be fixed anytime soon, regardless of the release situation of Black Widow. In fact, one could probably argue moving Black Widow out of its May slot would hurt theaters even further at a time they're already hurting the most.
At least with a Premiere Access release, Disney could release the film on the streaming service day-and-date with its current theatrical release schedule. In a perfect world, Disney and most theater chains would even come up with some kind of profit-sharing agreement. Not ideal for any party involved but alas, it's the situation we're in.
With the current release schedule, Black Widow's set to be one of four theatrical releases from Marvel Studios this year. It's the only release in a release date prior than the traditional summer release schedule, and it's probably the one movie on the schedule with the smallest impact on the storytelling future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it plunges forward into Phase Four and beyond.
Because of that, Black Widow is the one release from Marvel Studios that could find itself as a suitable addition to Disney+ on its current May release date.
Black Widow is currently set for release on May 7th.