Black Widow headed to Disney+ as studio shakes up schedule

The Marvel adventure and Emma Stone’s Cruella will both debut in cinemas and on streaming simultaneously

Disney has announced that Black Widow and Cruella will both be debuting on its streaming service Disney+ at the same time as in cinemas.

The Marvel adventure and 101 Dalmatians prequel had both been intended for traditional theatrical releases but with the box office still underperforming, the studio has made the decision for a hybrid release. “Today’s announcement reflects our focus on providing consumer choice and serving the evolving preferences of audiences,” said Kareem Daniel, chairman of Disney’s media and entertainment distribution.

Both films will be part of the platform’s premier access service, which requires users to pay an additional $30 rental fee, the same model used for Mulan and, most recently, Raya and the Last Dragon, which some US exhibitors have refused to show because of the simultaneous release. Box office intake has slowly started to increase in the US, with cinemas reopening in New York City and Los Angeles, the two biggest markets in the country, but many national locations still remain closed and capacity limits mean that attendance remains low.

The studio has also announced that Pixar’s summer film Luca will eschew any form of theatrical release in territories with Disney+, headed straight to the platform for no additional cost. The same strategy was used in December for Soul. Other films moved back by the company include Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, now opening in September, and the Agatha Christie adaptation Death on the Nile, now being released in February 2022.

Cruella, starring Emma Stone as the titular villain, will be released on 28 May while Black Widow is scheduled to premiere on 9 July. The Scarlett Johansson adventure was initially scheduled for 1 May 2020 but has seen a number of shifts because of Covid-19.

The news comes after Disney claimed its latest Marvel series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, was its most watched Disney+ series premiere yet, beating The Mandalorian and WandaVision. The studio recently reported that the platform has over 100 million users in just 16 months of operation.

BY Benjamin Lee
The Guardian

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