A game of theatrical musical chairs has been playing out on a constant basis ever since 2020 first saw movie theaters closing in light of the pandemic. In the wake of those closures, huge tentpole projects like No Time To Die, Wonder Woman 1984 and Jurassic World: Dominion have all seen their fortunes shifting to various places on the calendar, and Disney’s Black Widow is certainly no exception. Sitting on a May 7 theatrical release date until today, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first film since Avengers: Endgame has been the subject of intense speculation as to whether or not it would hold fast, with a Disney+ Premier Access release helping fans see the film more easily.
Well, a decision has finally been made, and it looks like Black Widow will indeed be moving its release date to July 9, per official word given by Disney today. However, this new move does come with the added benefit of the film being made available for home viewers,through the Disney+ Premier Access program. This comes just days after Disney CEO Bob Chapek told the world that any sort of change to the Scarlett Johansson/Florence Pugh-starring MCU picture would be made on a “last minute” basis. That last minute has just ticked off the clock, leaving Black Widow to both shift gears to a new slot, but also embrace the future of Disney releasing.
Disney+ Premier Access has been a hot button issue when it comes to the release of Disney’s various cinematic properties delayed from their 2020 slate. As Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon have been the only two titles to get this sort of treatment, it felt like an entry in the MCU would be held as a purely cinematic event. One can't blame Disney for such a decision, especially when Raya was a box office disappointment and Marvel Studios has been one of the most consistent moneymakers in cinematic history. So the decision to send Black Widow to a simultaneous launch window in July is going to be a case study that many will want to follow with keen interest.
Of course, the downside to the delays that have been seen on the cinematic side of the house is, naturally, the game plan that’s supposed to see Marvel properties on TV and in theaters moving hand in hand has been a bit altered. With Black Widow originally slated to release last May, both Disney+ original shows WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier were supposed to be seen by the public after director Cate Shortland’s big espionage thriller had already hit theaters. “Catch up” is the name of the game for the insanely-plotted out MCU, and this probably contributed to the thoughts in the room surrounding Black Widow’s ultimate release plan.
Thanks to this new announcement, Black Widow can be expected to debut on July 9, both in theaters and through Disney+ Premier Access. But if you want to keep an eye on how 2021 is shaping up for the rest of its potential theatrical resurrection, this year’s release schedule has all of the knowledge you could ask for. Except, of course, for what the post-credits tag in Black Widow will play like after being revealed some time past the season finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which is set to conclude its season on April 23.