As Black Widow nears the moment where it must commit its marketing dollars to a May release, word comes it may end up going the hybrid route.
While talking to Bloomberg (via C|Net) about various aspects of the Walt Disney Company, CEO Bob Chapek said the studio division will “remain flexible” in regards to the film’s exclusive theatrical run. “We’ll make the call … probably at the last minute, in terms of how these films come to market, whether it’s Black Widow or any other title,” he said. “We’ve had unbelievable success in theaters, so we think it’s important to build our franchises — but at the same time, we don’t think it’s the only way to do it.”
While Disney has used its streaming platform to debut films like Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon via an added cost dubbed “Premier Access,” it held back the Marvel Studios feature for a year as its success at the box office is important to the bottom line. That decision pushed all of the Marvel’s films back one year. At the moment, the movie is poised to be the first major tentpole film to debut only in theaters following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, oddly, it’s been that way since No Time to Die moved out of the way last April and WarnerMedia leveraged its HBO Max platform to debut big budget films like Wonder Woman 1984, Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat alongside a theatrical release. It’s lone DC Films project of the year, The Suicide Squad, is also expected to debut with the hybrid plan.
And, honestly, we hope Black Widow does likewise. Although vaccinations are increasing and infections are on the decline, the potential for a few more waves and outbreaks remains high. Going to an indoor movie theater may still be risky even on May 7th, when the film is due for release. Beyond the safety margin, making the film available at a Premier Access price would prove the viability of that release option going forward. Granted, Disney never wants a Marvel Studio production to thud (despite any contributing circumstances), so Scarlett Johansson and Natasha Romanoff may never be called in to handle this mission.
In the meantime, though, Black Widow is still set for release on May 7th.