In 2019, before the pandemic, industry experts were curious how streaming was going to change the landscape of how we watch movies. Lockdowns during the pandemic shifted things drastically, in many ways speeding things up. Major studios were forced to consider whether should hold onto their big-budget films, knowing that as time passed, they were losing money. MGM held onto their James Bond film, knowing it was costing them $1 million every month, but that they wouldn’t earn what they’d hoped to in theaters. Warner Bros committed to releasing their 2021 theatrical releases simultaneously on HBO Max. Disney, and thus Marvel, has been trying for movie theater releases at the same time as Disney+ with Premier Access, a move that has been controversial with theaters and with their film’s stars. But the big question is: where do the studios go from here?
According to sources for Small Screen, Marvel is planning on making feature-length movies set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe specifically for Disney+. They hear these projects will be both live-action and animated. Small Screen posted a direct quote from their source, who makes it sound like these projects will be exclusive to Disney+, meaning that they won’t be in theaters. This is similar to what WarnerMedia is doing. They have plans for future movies that will release in theaters, but they’re also starting some new projects that will release exclusively on HBO Max, like Blue Beetle and the new Batgirl movie starring Leslie Grace.
While this is still a rumor that should be taken with a grain of salt, it’s an interesting next move for Disney and one that seems to make sense. They’ve seen how well their Marvel series are doing on Disney+. Currently, they’re not sharing a lot of data on how many viewers are streaming their new releases like Black Widow on Disney+ with Premier Access, but it has seemed like a movie they’re standing by. Creating films exclusively for the service opens up more room for fresh content to keep people subscribed and interested in Disney+ and may help make their streaming service a “must” in the highly competitive world of streaming right now.
Could this mean more room for Marvel stories fans really want to see? Hopefully, it will mean that more characters from the comics, and side characters from the movies, can get their own feature-length movies. David Harbour has expressed an interest in a Red Guardian solo film. Could Disney+ be the fastest way to make that happen?
This rumor also opens up questions about how they’ll handle these feature-length Disney+ new releases. Will the new movies be available to stream with a regular subscription to the streaming service, or will Premier Access be required for the new Marvel Cinematic Universe movies? Premier Access currently costs $30 USD, in addition to a regular subscription to the streaming service. For movies releasing in theaters, that seems like a good deal. But how will the audience react to that regular fee on a streaming service?
HBO Max has been releasing their theatrical releases on the streaming service without an additional fee, and audiences are used to seeing original films release on Netflix with their regular subscription payment. Based on what Small Screen’s source shared, it doesn’t necessarily sound like Disney has a firm plan for these costs on the Marvel releases. We’ll be waiting for more news on how they’ll handle that.