As of now, the long-awaited Black Widow stand-alone film will be debuted to theaters first and not to the Disney+ streaming service. Disney CEO Bob Chapek confirmed as much in the company’s first quarter earnings call on Thursday, according to Variety.
“We are still intending it to be a theatrical release,” Chapek said.
All that surety went out the window when Chapek was asked about a release date, however. Black Widow is currently scheduled to hit theaters on May 7 of this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic still raging in the United States.
“We’re going to be watching very carefully the reopening of theaters and consumer sentiment on going back to theaters,” he said.
No doubt he will be watching closely, as the superhero spectacles that Marvel makes can have budgets in the 100s of millions of dollars, making a strong return absolutely crucial. Disney has been open to different release strategies since the coronavirus pandemic effectively halted the movie theater business. The Pixar creation Soul went straight to Disney’s streaming service and Mulan did the same, albeit behind an additional paywall.
Other superhero films have been faced with a similar dilemma. Patty Jenkins had to watch her Wonder Woman sequel go directly to HBO Max.
"If you had told me a year ago that we would ever go straight to streaming in any way, shape or form, I would have flipped out,” said Jenkins at the tail end of last year. “I’m very pro-theatrical release and I will be that again, as soon as this is over.”