If You Want To See Marvel’s ‘Shang-Chi,’ You’ll Have to Go to a Theater
Almost all of Disney’s theatrical releases of the last year — the few that have actually played in movie theaters — have also premiered on Disney+ that same day they debuted in multiplexes. Some of those Disney+ titles came included with the price of a+ subscription, like Pixar’s Soul and the upcoming Luca. Others required customers to pay a $29.99 “Premier Access” fee to watch these new films while they played in theaters. That’s the model Disney adopted for their remake of Mulan last summer, and then used again for Raya and the Last Dragon and the upcoming Cruella, Jungle Cruise, and even Marvel’s Black Widow.
That takes you through Disney’s midsummer releases. After that, though, it appears that Disney is returning to something closer to the way they distributed their theatrical movies prior to the pandemic. During a call to discuss the company’s second-quarter earnings, Disney CEO Bob Chapek revealed that the next Marvel Cinematic Universe title after Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, will get an “exclusive 45-day theatrical window.” After the 45 days in theaters, it will show up on Disney+.
The news shows just how much Disney depends on the box-office grosses from Marvel’s blockbusters. They’ve moved numerous other Disney and Pixar titles to streaming but just one Marvel picture. And even though Black Widow will arrive on Disney+ along with its theatrical premiere, Disney still has two more Marvel films before the end of 2021 (Shang-Chi and Eternals) and a total of ten Marvel films before the end of 2023. They had to start releasing these backlogged Marvel movies somewhere.
The same 45-day plan will also apply to Fox’s Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds; 45 days in theaters, followed by a streaming premiere after that. That film debuts on August 13. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings premieres in theaters — and only in theaters — on September 3, 2021.