In France, it is stipulated in its Media Chronology that streaming platforms, like Disney+, can only catalog films on their service after they have already been released theatrically after a 17-month window. Due to this, Disney began to reconsider the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in the country.
"The media timeline forces us to evaluate our theatrical releases film by film. We have not yet made a decision on the release of Black Panther."
At the beginning of the pandemic, there was much confusion and concern about how Disney handled specific film releases, but the most headache-inducing was Black Widow. Released in theaters and on streaming simultaneously, it was a legal and publicity nightmare for Disney.
Not only had they angered one of their biggest talents, Scarlett Johansson, but the release strategy wasn't very successful either. However, the conflict seems to have been resolved between Johansson and the studio.
As for Wakanda Forever and its theatrical release in France, Disney has finally released an official statement clarifying its position and the status of the film's debut in the country.
Disney Confirms Theatrical Release of Wakanda Forever
Disney has confirmed to Deadline that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be released in French theaters on November 9.
Additionally, the studio conglomerate released a statement with the news, clarifying that "due to the current windowing framework," Wakanda Forever won't be available on Disney+ until Spring 2024:
“Following the French authorities’ acknowledgment that the Media Chronology needs to be modernized and setting a clear timeline for those discussions, The Walt Disney Company will move forward with a French cinematic release of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on 9 November. Consequently, the film will not be available to Disney+ subscribers in France until Spring 2024, due to the current windowing framework."
However, Disney still objected to the chronology, calling it "anti-consumer" and saying that it put itself and other studios "at increased risk for piracy." The company reaffirmed its pursuit to "find a quick and equitable solution for all parties:"
“As we have stated before, we believe the chronology is anti-consumer and puts all studios at increased risk for piracy, which is why the majority of the stakeholders agree that it needs to be completely revised. We will remain actively engaged in the upcoming meetings and we will work closely with the CNC, the Ministry of Culture and the various other stakeholders in order to try and find a quick and equitable solution for all parties.
Finally, Disney repeated that it will still evaluate future releases "on a film-by-film basis:"
In the meantime, we will continue to make future release decisions on a film-by-film basis.”
So, it's still possible for Disney to prevent a theatrical release of a Marvel Cinematic Universe film in France from happening, perhaps as a bargaining tool in its upcoming discussions with the CNC and France's Ministry of Culture.
Meanwhile, Disney's animated Strange World is still forgoing a theatrical release in France, opting instead for a straight-to-streaming release on Disney+.
Explaining France's Release Confusion
There are two big reasons why France has such a harsh release window for streaming services: The first is the preservation of the French language, and the second is supporting local television and VOD services in the country.
At the moment, to put it simply, theatrical releases from Disney are made available for purchase four months after their debut. But, under a previously established deal, those films are made available to Canal+ after six months. So, at 17 months, those films can finally be made available on Disney+, but only for five months.
22 months after their theatrical debut, they'll be removed from the streaming service and go to free-to-air channels for a 14-month exclusive period before finally and permanently returning to Disney+ after 36 months.
Before a new deal was struck in January, the release window was far harsher, with theatrically released films only becoming available on streaming services after 36 months instead of the current 17-month waiting period.
So, it's understandable why Disney would find this process frustrating for themselves and why they may have been tempted not to release Wakanda Forever theatrically in France.
Despite a confusing post-theatrical plan, French audiences will luckily be able to experience the movie two days earlier than most of the rest of the world, with the November 9 release being much closer to the Black Panther sequel's world premiere date.
As for Americans, and for most of the world, they'll be able to enjoy Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in theaters on November 11.