This summer, Black Widow will be released both in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access at the same time. It will mark the first time in 2 years where moviegoers can see an MCU movie in the theater. As things continually return to pre-covid standards, the question arises whether or not Disney+ will keep releasing new movies under its $29.99 Premier Access feature, or ditch the hybrid approach adopted during the pandemic.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek addressed these concerns during The Walt Disney Company’s Second Quarter financial results conference call Thursday, saying the company hasn’t made that decision yet.
“We’re trying to monitor, ‘Are consumers ready to go back into theaters?’” Chapek said. “Of course, let’s say 90% of the domestic marketplace is open right now. And we’re encouraged in terms of polling in terms of that growing going forward, but if you look at last weekend’s box office for an example and you compare it versus an average of the last three years of pre-COVID box office, it was 85% low domestically and 67% below internationally.”
MCU’s Black Widow is anticipated to be one of the biggest box office hits this summer, so it will be interesting to see what kind of ticket sales it generates. If people are still a little hesitant to return to theaters, a must-see premiere like this might be the extra push they need to get them out the door and in a theater seat.
On the other hand, Disney+ is well-positioned to allow viewers to have the option to watch new releases from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
“In terms of going beyond this fiscal year, we’ve not announced exactly what our strategy is going to be in terms of which titles will be theatrical plus Disney+ Premier Access, which ones will be direct to Disney+ or which ones will go into Theatres,” Chapek said. “But know that we’ll continue to watch the evolution of the recovery of the theatrical marketplace and we’ll use that flexibility to make the right call at the right time.”
Disney+ introduced its Premier Access feature at the end of last summer, months deep into the pandemic. The live-action reimagining of Mulan was the first film to utilize the paywall feature, followed by Raya and the Last Dragon this spring, with Cruella next in line on May 28.
Earlier this week Disney announced its Emily Blunt-Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson live-action film Jungle Cruise would be getting the same-day theatrical and Premier Access release treatment.