The Black Widow release will be a last minute decision according to Disney CEO Bob Chapek. Now, whether that could mean a delay, or a potential hybrid release, remains to be seen. Here is what Chapek said when asked about further possible delays or hybrid releases for Disney movies when he spoke to Bloomberg recently.
“Our situation and our conditions change,” he explained. “Just a few weeks ago, theaters in New York and Los Angeles weren’t even open. Now, all of a sudden they’re open, so we’re waiting to see how prospective theatergoers respond to these re-openings.”
“We’re going to remain flexible. We’ll make the call probably at the last minute in terms of how these films come to market, whether it’s Black Widow or any other title.”
Black Widow is currently scheduled for a theatrical only release on May 7th. For now it’s looking like USA theatres will be open in time, but what about the rest of the World? I can only speak for my own Nation in the U.K., and it’s not looking like theatres will be open in time for Black Widow. It would therefore be a risky move for Disney to release Black Widow theatrically only in the States and have delays elsewhere.
Piracy is the main issue, monetary wise, but think about all the spoilers. Ant-Man and the Wasp had a delay across Europe of around a month due to the Football World Cup, and it was horrible. Not only were spoilers for that movie online weeks before release, it was also heavily pirated. Ultimately Ant-Man and the Wasp was a bit of a failure in the European market. With the wait fans have already had for Black Widow, it would be a crazy move to do this again.
What about a hybrid release? Disney have offered the likes of Reya and the Last Dragon, and Mulan on Premier Access. However, there seems to be resistance to making the same move with Black Widow. This of course has been the main reason for all the MCU delays in the last year. Disney also cannot afford to release theatrically only in the States/Canada and then on Premier Access elsewhere. Again, we are back to the piracy issue here.
The only possibilities I can see here are either another round of delays, or a Global hybrid release. If I was a betting man, I’d have my money on delays. The next MCU movie set for release is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, currently set for July 9th. According to current estimates, even in a new strain zone like the U.K. theatres will be open Globally by this date again. If Disney are determined to have Black Widow be theatrical only, the smart decision would be to delay all the movies again by one slot. However at this point I struggle to see the benefits of preventing a hybrid release. We may all be able to go to the cinema come July, but how many will rush straight back in? Disney does not know the answer to that question, yet.
This all comes down to numbers. Disney has to work out what will give them the best profit for each movie currently ready to go. The problem is, right now Disney’s analysts probably cannot give the likes of Chapek a straight answer he can hang his hat on. I hope we get a hybrid Black Widow release on May 7th. However, as said above, the smart money is on a delay, again.
As always leave any thoughts you have below.