Black Widow could be following another iconic female superhero in terms of breaking new ground in the movie industry. The much-anticipated solo film for the Scarlett Johansson version of the character has faced numerous delays in its effort to hit fans’ eyeballs. But with recent shakeups in how streaming platforms and studios are deciding to release movies, we may have an opportunity to see the movie without even heading to a theater. Recent rumors have Black Widow possibly following Wonder Woman 1984’s lead and streaming while also releasing in theaters.
Big news hit this week when WarnerMedia announced they would release Wonder Woman 1984 on the streaming service HBOMax at the same time it hit theaters like AMC. The movie would be free to HBOMax subscribers for a month as it paralleled a theater release. This was a groundbreaking development and likely signals a seismic shift for the movie industry as a whole. It could end up being the death knell for movie theater chains as we know them. That Black Widow could follow suit only means we will see more of these moves going forward. With no clear timelines on movie theaters operating at full capacity, studios are unlikely to continue sitting on major motion pictures.
Black Widow was originally slated for a May 2020 theatrical debut. But because of pandemic-related theater closings and the movie industry basically getting turned upside down, it was then pushed to November 6, 2020 release. But that date didn’t stick either and the studio decided to push it back another seven months to May 7, 2021.
Rumors over the summer had Marvel considering an online release of the movie anyway. Now, with Wonder Woman 1984 leading the charge, we will probably see Black Widow hitting Disney+ in much the same way. The platform did something similar with Mulan, making it available to subscribers for an additional $29.99 premiere access fee. HBOMax is not using the same pricing model. Instead, they will make Wonder Woman 1984 free to subscribers. One would almost have to assume Disney+ takes the same tack with their movies going forward.
Assuming we don’t get into alternate timelines which is always a chance in the comic book world, we already know the fate of Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And that made the delays around the Black Widow movie all that much more disappointing. But it sure looks like now, after pushing back a full year from the original timelines, Black Widow will be available to those who don’t want to walk into a movie theater.
These types of dual releases aren’t just going to be a blip on the radar. This is likely the new normal when it comes to how we engage with movies, blockbusters included. There’s almost no way around it. And considering the financial woes of brick and mortar movie chains as it is, we might be simply ushering out movie theaters in general. If HBOMax and Disney+ have success around the Wonder Woman 1984 and Black Widow releases there’s no reason the rest of the industry won’t just get right in line with other flicks.