After years of waiting for Scarlett Johansson to finally take the spotlight as Black Widow in her own solo installment, her film is finally set to release this year on May 7 to kick off the Summer moviegoing season. Or is it? That's the question Marvel fans are continuing to ask as many of the world's theaters remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Disney takes films like Raya and the Last Dragon to theaters alongside a paid release on Disney+, some are continuing to speculate Black Widow may see the same fate.
It's been over a year since the Marvel epic released its 'Final Trailer' before the original delay pushed the film from its original 2020 release. Naturally, when this happened, marketing was paused altogether, and a new look hasn't been seen since.
With the release just two months away and no new marketing having been seen, fans continue to speculate on whether the film will be delayed again or risk being Marvel's first box office failure.
However, new evidence seems to be suggesting the film is still aiming for a summer theatrical release, potentially alongside a Disney+ premiere
BLACK WIDOW COULD GO TO DISNEY+ AS RAYA FLOPS IN THEATERS
As the pandemic continues, Disney just released Raya and the Last Dragon to incredibly low box office figures as the film dropped simultaneously on Disney+ Premier Access. It's clear moviegoers are still wary of a trip to the theater, and much of the world's big screens still have their doors closed.
Deadline discussed the near future of big-screen releases, particularly within Disney, as the fate of Black Widow remains unclear. As of now, Disney still has Black Widow planned for a May 7 theatrical release in the United States, with no comments to exhibition chains to suggest otherwise.
However, as the House of Mouse released its latest animated blockbuster to the public, no trailers for the superhero outing were shown. Raya was accompanied by a look at Cruella, the 101 Dalmations prequel, which isn't due to release until May 28.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek was recently quoted as saying “We certainly don’t want to do anything like cut the legs off a theatrical exhibition run.” Deadline notes that despite this reassurance, many theater owners are still concerned that the studio will give Black Widow the same theatrical-Disney+ hybrid release as they did with Raya.
This could potentially that when Scarlett Johansson's Marvel film drops in May, it will release both in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access as a PVOD release on the same day.
DISNEY+ OR DELAY FOR BLACK WIDOW?
It's tough to speculate on where Disney will take their next blockbuster cinematic release. Even as theaters begin to open up in countries around the world and in key states like New York, viewers still haven't seemed anxious to return to crowded screens as the virus remains a risk.
In a pre-pandemic world, a long-awaited film like Black Widow would have the potential to gross Disney and Marvel potentially over a billion dollars. However, it's going to take some time before that kind of money can be grossed again, potentially making a Disney+ Premier Access release the logical move.
Not only does the PVOD cost allow the studio to recoup some revenue, but it also requires a subscription to the streaming service, and the release of a new Marvel blockbuster on streaming would be sure to bring in many new subscribers.
The lack of trailers and marketing for the film is likely an indication that its fate remains undecided. But, with May moving ever closer, Disney will need to make a decision soon or risk another delay.
With Phase 4 having begun with WandaVision, it's possible the studio may want to move ahead with its theatrical slate no matter the circumstances. Films like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness tying directly into Disney+ series' means that pushing back films further would require them to do the same on the streaming service.
2021 has a packed slate for Marvel with Shang-Chi to make his debut in July, Eternals to grace theaters in November, and Spider-Man to swing back into theaters in time for Christmas. All around, this interconnected slate which ties directly into various series makes it hard to delay anything without sabotaging the entire Marvel master plan.
The Direct will continue to follow the release status for the Scarlett Johansson-led Black Widow, but for now, the film is still set to debut exclusively in theaters on May 7.