Movie studios are still trying to navigate film releases and while movie theaters are now largely open, they're still not at full capacity and many potential viewers aren't quite ready to go back yet. As a studio with many potentially huge box office films, Disney has had the hardest time figuring out just what to do with theaters open, but only partially. After delaying Black Widow for over a year, Disney decided to split the difference and release the next big Marvel movie both in theaters and on Disney+, with a Premier Access price tag. Now the studio has decided to do the same thing with another highly anticipated film, Jungle Cruise, starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.
The last time Disney made some adjustments to the release plan, it was announced that both Cruella, coming out at the end of this month, and Black Widow set for July 9, would get the dual release. Meanwhile, Pixar's Luca, coming out between the two is getting a Disney+ only release without the additional price tag. However, at the time it seemed the expectation was that all future movies, starting with Jungle Cruise, would go for theatrical only releases. It seems now that Disney doesn't think the box office will be there when the movie opens July 30.
Disney launched its Premier Access option with Mulan last year. Movies with that designation cost an addition $29.99 along with a standard Disney+ subscription fee. Raya and the Last Dragon was also released in theaters and with Premier Access, but so far Disney hasn't released any details regarding how many people actually took advantage of the option.
Clearly the dust has not settled when it comes to theatrical distribution just yet. While some movies like the new Saw spinoff and A Quiet Place Part II are already making the decision to release only in theaters, Disney is not ready to do that yet. Now, all eyes will likely turn toward Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. That's the next "big" movie coming from Disney, set to open September 3. We'll have to wait and see what the theatrical landscape looks like then, though, as with Jungle Cruise Disney will probably wait until the last minute to make a call.
One other movie to watch for is Fox's Free Guy. That one could potentially drop as a Premier Access movie, assuming that the film is suitable for Disney+, which is far from clear at this point. If not, we could see the movie released in some other fashion, or simply delayed once again until the box office is in a better state.
Dwayne Johnson himself made an announcement to fans regarding the decision to add Disney+ to the Jungle Cruise release plan. The Rock focused on the positive aspects of the decision, that fans now have a choice to watch the movie however they wish.
As a fan of theme parks, movies, and Dwayne Johnson, Jungle Cruise is actually one movie I'm really looking forward to and while I hope to be able to watch it in theaters, it's also just nice to know that the movie is still coming out this July and won't be delayed yet again. The Walt Disney Company is hosting an earnings call later today and we'll likely get more details about this decision there.