Black Widow is currently scheduled for a theatrical release on November 6, 2020. With movie theaters reopening and hoping business will pick up, it’s likely that this is still the plan for the next installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, the threat of COVID-19 has not magically gone away and audiences might not be enthusiastic about returning to movie theaters. If that’s the case, Disney might be considering other release options for the Scarlett Johansson star vehicle.
A rumor is stirring that Disney is closely monitoring the success of Mulan on Disney+ and using that as a possible gauge for how they might treat the release of Black Widow. Currently, Disney+ subscribers can pay a premium fee of $29.99 to have full access to Mulan on the streaming platform. Disney has Mulan listed as their number one trending media on Disney+, though that is almost assuredly part of their marketing strategy. Whether or not Mulan is a genuine success through this premium access remains to be seen, and it is worth taking Disney’s final reported numbers (if they release them) with a grain of salt.
It’s also worth taking this rumor with an equal amount of salt grain. Black Widow has had a tumultuous release journey like many movies that were scheduled for 2020. There is certainly a contingency of fans who would like this Marvel Cinematic Universe entry to go straight to streaming for various reasons. In this author’s opinion, no movies should be opening in theaters and encouraging people to gather in a closed air-conditioned room for upwards of two and a half hours. Any new release movie that was scheduled for theatrical exhibition should release on VOD/streaming platforms as a safety precaution.
Could that happen with Black Widow? It is not outside of the realm of possibility. Disney will be watching the movie theater box office very closely over the next two months. If business does not pick up at movie theaters, they might see a Disney+ premium release for Black Widow as the most profitable option. It is also a matter of gauging audience interest in a solo film for the character. Many fans have criticized Marvel for waiting too long to release a Black Widow movie and the momentum might not be there to justify a full-scale theatrical release in the COVID-19 era.
Regardless, all of this is up in the air as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change our priorities on a day-to-day basis. Black Widow‘s release could become another casualty of the pandemic’s effect on theatrical exhibition, or it could be one of the first films that drives a lot of people to go back to movie theaters. It all depends on how much money Disney thinks this Marvel Cinematic Universe entry can make. If they feel confident about theatrical distribution, they will definitely want that to be their first option. If the situation doesn’t look like it has improved the closer we get to November, Disney might see a bigger benefit in releasing Black Widow on Disney+. It might all rest on the shoulders of Mulan. Too bad that isn’t the greatest movie Disney could put forward.