Scarlett Johansson has been waiting to see Black Widow out there in the world for a very long time. Many fans have been hoping that the Marvel Cinematic Universe entry would be hitting streaming instead of being a theatrical exclusive. Marvel Studios has been pretty adamant about sticking to the theatrical exclusivity of the movie, but the pressure has been mounting since it does not look like Americans are quite ready to head out to the movies in droves like they used to. And we now have official confirmation that says Black Widow will be headed to streaming.
The Hollywood Reporter has dropped that the Scarlett Johansson superhero flick is going to have a joint release in both theaters and on the streaming service Disney+. Just as they did with Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon, Black Widow will be available through their Premier Access service which includes an additional fee on top of the subscription fee to Disney+. The release date for the film will be July 9.
It is not difficult to understand why the Scarlett Johansson movie will have a Premier Access release as well as a theatrical run. Disney has clearly seen that’s a viable strategy for certain releases and they have been sitting on Black Widow for so long that they have to believe they will be taking a substantial hit if they stick solely to a theatrical release. While there will certainly be hype around the movie, having any film sitting around for too long just naturally diminishes the momentum it has in the weeks up until its release. By having it available on Disney+, the studio now guarantees some real press for the decision.
And make no mistake: this is a big deal. Having a major Marvel Cinematic Universe movie available through Disney+, even with an additional fee, is a big shift in the event cinema narrative that Disney has shaped with these movies. Especially considering that fans have been waiting to see Scarlett Johansson headline a Black Widow movie for a decade. Capitulating and offering it as a streaming option signifies a potentially groundbreaking shift in the landscape of movie distribution. Disney also announced they will be doing the same with Cruella, so this is not quite the level of desperation that it once appeared to be at the start of the pandemic. This really could be the start of a whole new world when it comes to major studio movie releases.
It is going to be fascinating to see how this affects other studios and their approach to releasing their tentpole films in the future. If a Scarlett Johansson Marvel movie can get the streaming/PVOD treatment, anything can. WarnerMedia’s decision to put their whole slate of 2021 films on HBO Max isn’t looking so wild now. In fact, will people be more interested in HBO Max now that their movies won’t have an additional fee attached to them? Or is the brand loyalty to Disney so fervent that their consumers will be willing to pay whatever Mickey asks of them? It’s a new era and it’s only going to continue to progress further towards streaming accessibility for all movies.