Black Widow was originally planned to be the first project in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four, but when the film was pushed from May 1, 2020 to May 7, 2021, WandaVision became the new beginning of Phase Four. Marvel hasn’t had a new film since 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, and while Pixar and Disney have moved some of their theatrical projects to Disney+, Marvel has yet to make that leap. Now, it seems what is keeping Disney+ from getting a Black Widow release is Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.
We reported this news about what was holding up the Black Widow release several months ago, and now Variety is also reporting that Kevin Feige is keeping Black Widow from a Disney+ release. According to this new report, Disney is following Feige’s lead, considering he’s done a solid job leading Marvel so far, but there is the possibility he could change his mind. Apparently, Disney and Marvel have until mid-March to confirm what the plans for Black Widow are.
Disney and Marvel have three options when it comes to the Black Widow release. The first is that they simply delay Black Widow even further until it is safe to return to theaters. Even though the COVID-19 vaccine is currently being distributed throughout the United States, it is unclear how long audiences feel safe going back to the movies. But if Marvel does push Black Widow even further, the studio will also likely have to push their massive lineup of future releases as well.
Another option for the Black Widow release is a hybrid launch, which would have the film debut on Disney+, likely with a premium price tag, akin to what Disney did for their live-action Mulan. Disney+ has shown their audience is interested in Marvel stories on the streaming service, with the popularity of WandaVision, and excitement growing over The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which is debuting next month. But with Black Widow featuring a budget of over $200 million, it’s unlikely even a Black Widow release for an extra cost would earn the company their money back.
Or Marvel could simply stick to their current May 7, 2021 Black Widow release date and hope for the best. This type of plan hasn’t worked for other studios, as Warner Bros. made only $40 million domestically with Wonder Woman 1984, and Tenet only made $57 million domestically. However, the majority of these movie’s box-office revenue came from international markets, as Tenet went on to make $305 million outside the United States. If Marvel did push to keep their current theatrical plan, the company would also certainly be hoping the international markets would make Black Widow a success, since the film would likely be the lowest-grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe film in the United States.
If Marvel does stick with their current Black Widow release strategy, Black Widow will be the first major release of 2021 that doesn’t have a concurrent streaming release. Disney could follow HBO Max’s lead and release Black Widow on Disney+ for a premium price the same day as its theatrical release, but so far, Disney has stuck to either theatrical or streaming releases, not both. It sounds as though Marvel has until next month to decide how or even if we will see Black Widow in May of this year.