As we enter a new landscape around movie releases and how studios are treating their biggest-budget tentpole films, there has been a push and pull around whether flicks would hit just movie theaters, just streaming, or have some kind of hybrid release schedule. With the pandemic throwing the industry into a bit of havoc, we’ve seen all manner of strategies from different houses. But it looks like things might be returning to “normal” at least for the Disney and Marvel side of things. That’s because they’ve announced that the rest of the 2021 slate will appear exclusively in theaters. It is a big move, possibly signaling that the traditional manner of movie releases could be in effect across the industry sooner than later.
This announcement by Disney, which includes the Marvel properties as well, happened on Sunday night and follows the overwhelmingly successful Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings which hit screens over Labor Day weekend. The movie earned close to $95 million dollars through that original four-day weekend run, representing a record at the box office for Labor Day. It’s totaled more than $257 million thus far, marking it as enough of a success for Disney and Marvel to say that further movies are going to see the primary theatrical release first.
Disney and Marvel have a number of movies on the docket for the rest of the year too. Making this decision now to give each film a 45-day theatrical release is clearly what the studio sees as the most viable option in terms of even beginning to recoup the losses they’ve seen over the last year-plus. The Covid-19 pandemic shuttering theaters for months and then saw them operating at less than full capacity after that. But with more states easing restrictions on public gatherings, that is clearly less of an issue now and as we move towards the holiday release season.
The films Disney plans on releasing over the next few months include Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s The Last Duel and then Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch in October. Then, Marvel will have the highly-anticipated Eternals hitting the big screen, an ensemble cast of new heroes which is meant to begin a whole new storyline within the universe. It looks like one of Marvel’s most stunning-looking movies to date, one clearly meant to get a big-screen release.
This then begins the holiday season theatrical run which has often been a crucial time for studios like Disney and Marvel. There is the Home Alone reboot Home Sweet Home Alone which has a stacked cast, the animated movie Encanto and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, all meant to draw the younger crowds into the theaters. They will round out the year with West Side Story and The King’s Man.
Following the moderate debacle for Disney and Marvel that was the Black Widow release, with the studios and Scarlett Johansson still at odds over compensation, it is likely a sigh of relief for the plan moving forward to include solely theatrical releases. And folks needn’t worry, these will all hit Disney+ 45 days after the first release. It looks like the movie industry is getting back to “normal”.