After speculation Black Widow would launch on Premier Access in May, Disney CEO Bob Chapek has confirmed the company remains committed to a cinema-only release this year. The news came during Disney’s latest shareholder meeting, where Chapek re-confirmed the May 7 release date in U.S. cinemas, and promised a movie that would be “well worth the wait.”
Despite being delayed to avoid being caught up in the pandemic, it appears Black Widow will now go ahead with its planned cinema release even as U.S. coronavirus cases and deaths continue to mount. There was no mention of Premier Access on the call, indicating the film won’t get the hybrid release many hoped for. If Marvel fans want to see the latest films, they’ll need to head to a local cinema, mask up, and hope for the best.
Update 24/3, 7:07 a.m. AEDT: Well, that didn’t last long! Two weeks after announcing Black Widow would not come to Premier Access, Disney has updated its plans for release. It will now come to theatres and Premier Access in July.
The original article continues below.
Disney’s reluctance to premiere Black Widow on Premier Access is strange considering how the service has gone so far.
In November 2020, Disney CEO Bob Chapek indicated Premier Access was a big success for Mulan, with the company reportedly “pleased” with results from the service. Subsequent releases for Soul and Raya and the Last Dragon proved the service was popular and that it could generate buzz online.
In lieu of being able to visit cinemas due to the global pandemic, moviegoers were able to enjoy Disney flicks from home via the service, chat about it with their friends and share their thoughts on social media in real time. Premier Access made movie-watching a more social experience, and made it safe to catch up with all the latest flicks in areas where the pandemic was more widespread.
WandaVision has experienced similar success over the last few months. With each episode, the online buzz around the show increased and more people were swept up in its wild antics. Rumours, online chatter and theories buoyed the show’s profile and pushed it into the mainstream conversation.
The same could be done for Black Widow.
Marvel fans are a passionate bunch, and $40 is a small price to pay for the next chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With fans spending hundreds on merchandise, Pop Vinyls, comics and clothing yearly, it’s a fair bet they’d be willing to fork out to watch the film on Premier Access. After a year-long delay, Marvel fans are also ready for the next big thing.
The fervour behind WandaVision proves just how much people still love the MCU and all its super-heroic antics.
For now though, it appears Black Widow will stick to its original plan: a global cinema release.
While this is viable (and safe) for countries like Australia and New Zealand, the coronavirus pandemic is still a major issue for many parts of the world. Cinemas are considered high-risk venues for coronavirus transmission due to the tight, enclosed nature of the spaces. Outdoor theatres are slightly safer, but there’s still major health risks in having communities come together for events.
It means concerned fans who would otherwise have watched the film on Premier Access won’t attend cinemas. The box office numbers will suffer as a result. If fans choose to go to the movies to watch Black Widow anyway, they’re risking their health and livelihood to avoid spoilers.
While Disney’s decision is understandable — they want to usher in a new era of summer blockbusters, keep tradition alive and ensure a profit — it still feels too early to bring a film like Black Widow to the big screen. The world isn’t ready for a return to theatres. But that’s not going to stop Disney’s plans.
For now, Black Widow is set to release on April 29 in Australia, and May 7 around the world.
It’s unlikely to be delayed again, but stay tuned to Gizmodo Australia for more news.