Disney is making a number of changes to its upcoming theatrical release dates in order to accommodate delayed films like Black Widow and Mulan. The studio's upcoming Artemis Fowl movie, originally set to release on May 29th, is now ditching theaters entirely for a Disney Plus debut later this summer.
Mulan will now open on July 24th, four months after the film was originally set to open on March 27th. The move suggests that Disney believes people will be going back to theaters by mid-July to watch big blockbusters. Fox's Free Guy, which stars Taika Waititi and Ryan Reynolds, will now open on December 11th instead of July 1st, and Jungle Cruise moves back a full year to July 30th, 2021.
Other notable delays from Disney include the untitled fifth Indiana Jones movie going from July 9th, 2021 to July 29th, 2022, and Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch moving from July 24th to October 16th. New Mutants, Fox's constantly delayed X-Men movie, notably does not have a new release date.
In order for Disney to release Black Widow the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe post-Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2020, a number of Marvel movies have shifted their dates, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Black Widow will now open on November 6th, which was originally held by The Eternals. The Eternals will now open on February 12th, 2021, a spot originally held for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
The release date bumping continues as such. Shang-Chi will now open on May 7th, 2021, which moves Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to November 5th, 2021. Thor: Love and Thunder will now open on February 28th, 2022. Black Panther 2's May 8th, 2022 release date remains unchanged, but Captain Marvel will open two weeks early on July 8th, 2022.
"To avoid catastrophic losses to the studios, these titles must have the fullest possible theatrical release around the world," an earlier statement from the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) reads. "While one or two releases may forgo theatrical release, it is our understanding from discussions with distributors that the vast majority of deferred releases will be rescheduled for theatrical release as life returns to normal."
That doesn't mean Disney is rearranging every movie to ensure they all receive theatrical releases. Instead, Artemis Fowl will debut on Disney Plus, the company's streaming service. Disney previously made Frozen 2 available on Disney Plus three months early and moved Pixar's Onward to digital retailers and Disney Plus early, as well.
What we're seeing instead is studios like Disney among others like Universal, Paramount, and Warner Bros. starting to make pipeline decisions. The question for many of these studios is which films are likely to generate a good return on investment (Mulan, Black Widow) and which ones might perform better as digital and streaming exclusives (Artemis Fowl).
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